By Mayank Shekhar, Hindustan Times
Krantiveer: The Revolution
Director: Mehul Kumar
Actors: Jahan Bloch, Sameer Aftab
In an earlier century, it was the East India Company, a foreign corporation that sucked India dry. Now Indian companies bleed their own, this film submits, attributing farmers’ suicides to the state of corporate affairs: “Agar companies farming karengi, toh farmer kya karega! (If corporations work the farm, what’ll the farmer do).”
Precious logic, that. After all, ‘agar tum pehnoge Rupa ke underwear aur banyan, toh Rupa kya pehnegi’. True.
The film industry itself has been destroyed by wretched “corporates”, the film suggests, referring to ‘suits’ who self-assuredly swagger about, “crack open laptops, and know nothing of creativity”. They’ve turned the commerce of movies completely upside down, “Those (actors) who took in lakhs, now talk in crores.”
You hear the point. Krantiveer (literally: Revolution Brave), if you care to remember (and how can you not?), was a huge, hit film of ’94. This was a time when Nana Patekar’s high-pitched hamming was a barometer of Bollywood’s box office success. Certainly, this film’s makers can’t quite afford Mr Patekar for a supposed sequel anymore. They’ve cast instead the producer-director’s daughter sitting at home.
It's the same director, by the way, who Amitabh Bachchan (a drunk surgeon) chose to mark his return to movies with in ’97 (Mrityudaata; post-politics, before KBC). Much has changed, in Bollywood, and otherwise. The filmmaker’s frustration shows.
Television, he argues, is that weapon of mass distraction that can truly rattle up a sickening political-industrial complex: TV media is the “aaj ki date ki sabse badi taakat (strongest power at present).” Camera alone can cure corruption of all sorts.
The filmmaker directs his seething angst first against “white collar tycoons” who pawn sexual favours for plum jobs at their companies. A head-honcho, actor Aman Verma, is caught with his pants down on TV. As he was in a sting operation once. The gent on screen is jailed instantly for sexual misconduct. His real self had run into no such poor luck with India TV back then.
But, make no mistake. This film and its creatively titled television show Jhooth Ke Khilaaf Sach Ka Jung (War of truth against lies) aren’t after silly, small fries.
Besides the colonial British, and current robber barons, the portly politician is the picture’s pet, prime-time peeve: aged, illiterate, sexually deviant, morally bankrupt, communally divisive ministers and members of parliament who plant “cycle bombs” on streets and “treat issues like tissue paper”, merely to use and throw.
They exchange notes on the bewakoof (stupid) Indian public on the phone. And gather around in a semi-circle of sofas at their garish den, sipping on whisky, moving to nautch girls’ pelvic thrusts. Globalisation is but upon us. The women are Russian.
Constituents certainly deserve better. They get to chase these “white khadis” on to the streets, garland them in chappals, blacken the faces, whack ‘em hollow, kick them hard…
Such the catharsis: You finally feel psychologically satiated, morally redeemed. Mental exhaustion is too minor a price to pay for this cutesy honesty. Come on, give it a shot. I dare you.
Bollywood.com Rating: 1.5