By Hindustan Times
The film that's reeling with multiple bans across the country, isn't exactly what its title suggests, rue critics. What's more? In the film's second half, the issue of Aarakshan is totally forgotten. Here's what leading critics have to say about the much-hyped film.
"Prakash Jha’s highly anticipated film isn’t really what the title might suggest: a sledgehammer drama about a simmering political issue that has never been addressed before in a mainstream Hindi film. Instead, it’s a rather safe, superficial and simplistic take on an extremely complex theme. The film lets off steam, and generates some smoke, but the fire is missing," writes Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV.com.
The usual Prakash Jha flavour also seems to be missing in the movie. "The film lacks the historical perspective and characters that showed guts and gall that one has come to associate with filmmaker Prakash Jha's style after Mrityudand and Gangaajal. Amitabh, as principal Prabhakar Anand, stands out as a tall figure amidst a sea of spineless characterisations that keep flitting in and out of the frame (there should be a special price for those who spot Saif moving to America for his PhD and coming back to be by the side of his idol Amitabh in his bad times)," says Saisuresh Sivaswamy, Rediff.
But then there's Big B and Saif-Deepika who make the film worth watching. "The confrontations between Amitabh Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan are absolutely explosive and riveting stuff, with Saif pitching in one of his finest performances after Omkara," says Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India.
In the second half, the issue of Aarakshan is completely forgotten. "The issue of Aarakshan is totally forgotten as the film becomes a diatribe against private coaching institutes, with Professor Bachchan providing an inspiring alternative by giving free tutorials in a tabela (cow shed). Needless to say, all his admirers soon join the tabela revolution, including Saif who is reduced to a mere by-stander in the entire show," continues Kazmi.
Lack of attention to detail seems to be a major weakness in the film. "Jha seems to be at a confused juncture as a filmmaker. His intentions seem noble; he continues to take up socio-political issues in the mainstream more often than most filmmakers, but he seems to want to please everyone now. He achieved tremendous commercial success with Raajneeti, and Jha doesn’t seem to want to let go of that - a clear case of not practising what you preach," writes Aniruddha Guha, DNA.
"The attention to detail in Aarakshan is astoundingly poor. After repeated dialogues that establish Anand to have been the Principal for 35 years, a board in his office says he took over the post in 1983. The film is set in the year 2008. You do the math. In another scene, Saif calls Deepika from the US, and a close up of her phone shows the number starting with 91-22. Call from the production office, eh?" continues Guha.
Performances to watch out for:
Amitabh Bachchan: "The Principal's role is tailor-made for Amitabh Bachchan. Though the actor has portrayed an unsympathetic Principal of an educational institution in Mohabbatein earlier, his role is different this time around. In Mohabbatein, a delicate episode toughened his character. In Aarakshan, his persona begins to suffer when Manoj Bajpayee and the coterie begin to show aggression and debase him. He doesn't strike back initially, but retaliates later, when he starts teaching all over again. The actor gives a completely new dimension to this character," writes Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama.
Saif Ali Khan: "It requires great courage to cast Saif Ali Khan in the role, but he comes across as very persuasive. In fact, the film offers him several difficult sequences, which the actor carries off with flourish. His diction, while delivering shudh Hindi, is perfect. This role must have been a challenge for Deepika Padukone as well and she surprises you with a confident portrayal. In fact, she has an equally challenging part to play in the story and it must be said that she handles her scenes, even when she's pitted against experienced actors, with complete understanding," feels Adarsh.
Manoj Bajpayee: "Manoj Bajpayee was remarkable in Raajneeti; he played a devious and manipulative politician with gusto. In Aarakshan, his character is negative as well; he treats education as a business. And Manoj is incredible this time as well," writes Adarsh.