Just to clear the air – this movie is hardly about reservations or the quota system. The word is scattered here and there throughout the movie to create a conflict of ideas regarding the education system in our country. This is when you have the righteous educationist, Amitabh Bachchan, pitted against the scheming Manoj Bajpai. Add to that the joke of a climax.
It’s a typical Prakash Jha movie and in parts, it suffers a major Rajneeti hangover – not in terms of the plot but in terms of the narrative and in the way the characters react to each other. It’s like a tennis match where two characters just volley actions and dialogues between themselves. The fact that screenplay writer Anjum Rajabali is still stuck on heavily-worded lines and weak (sometimes borrowed), utterly clichéd plot elements is very evident.
Amitabh Bachchan delivers a brilliant performance and does so effortlessly. Well, he’s one of the two reasons this movie should be watched; the other being Manoj Bajpayee.
Playing an antagonist to Mr.Bachchan’s seasoned dramatic presence is hard enough and Bajpayee does justice to that. The rest of the characters are there simply because the movie is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. Saif Ali Khan ends up playing an unconvincing character as the guy who goes to Cornell and returns to help his guruji. One wonders if he’s confused between being a teacher or a thug because when he’s not teaching, he’s beating up others or going to jail. The confusion is visible in the other characters played by Prateik and Deepika Padukone as well. For some reason Prateik’s acting felt like that he was forced to say his lines under gun-point and Deepika Padukone gives a very average performance. None of the main actors (besides Mr.Bachchan and Mr.Bajpayee) could speak properly – I bet Saif almost killed himself learning all of that shuddh-Hindi.
To add to all of this, the movie has a horrible production value. An important part of the climax has been shot using a very visible green-screen technique. The background music at times is spot-on and at times really off the mark. Sometimes, it is completely uncalled for! I had immense expectations from this movie but unfortunately, it wasn’t what I was looking for. You can watch it given you have three hours to spend and enough money for the popcorn and Coke – trust me, you’ll need them!