June 26, 2020
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Manjhi

From Nax­a­­lism, corruption and Eme­rgency, there are too many issues Mehta dabbles in.

Manjhi
Manjhi
outlookindia.com
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Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Tigmanshu Dhulia
Directed by Ketan Mehta
Rating: **

All that one is left wondering at the end of Manjhi is what if Nawazuddin was not there in the film. Well, it would certainly have collapsed. He single-­handedly holds it together with his impassioned performance and breathes life into a strangely inert piece of story-telling. In this, he is quite like the character he personifies, Dashrath Manjhi, who toiled all alone, hammer and chisel in hand, at carving a road through a mountain for 20 years. The film had much going for it. The fact that it is a Bollywood biopic about a common man, not some public figure, and that it’s a poignant tale of man against nature, caste and administration, all at one go. But Mehta opts for an old-fash­ioned, larger-than-life way, with characters swi­nging on the extremes of good and evil with melodrama chosen over subtlety. So the romance bet­ween Manjhi and Phaguniya (Radhika Apte, all affectation) takes too much time and is at the expe­nse of the unique relatio­nship of Manjhi with for­ces of nature. From Nax­a­­lism, corruption and Eme­rgency, there are too many issues Mehta dabbles in. Only if he could have focused on the caste politics and untouchability alone! So, Manjhi feels sca­­ttered. As a viewer all you feel is a disconnect.

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