Friday 21 August 2015

MANJHI- THE MOUNTAIN MAN: The ‘Man at Work’ Nawazuddin nails it! [3.5/5]

The term ‘Incredible India’ can never be classified to only its breathtakingly colorful places of cultural or natural heritage; or even to the very fact that despite being stung by corruption, crime and constricted behavioral social and over-emotional issues, it is still very much on its feet. In fact, the other and the most significant characteristic of our nation have always been the legends of implausible efforts turning the impossible into the possible. The courageous case of Dashrath Manjhi of Bihar is most likely the most inspiring saga of undying spirit, nerve-wracking guts, survival against all odds and the triumph of true love in modern India. Ketan Mehta’s MANJHI- THE MOUNTAIN MAN is a visual documentation of Manjhi’s arduous 22-year long struggle to bring a considerable change in the society he’s been rooted in. But in the stricture of a Bollywood film that also craves for approval of the entertainment-seekers! A win some, lose some situation!

Dashrath Manjhi [Nawazuddin] is an angry young man traumatized by his beloved wife’s unfortunate accidental death and tormented by the haunting memories of good old times spent with her. Describing the pain better in his own words, Manjhi states in the film, “Kuch bhulaye nahin bhoolta. Fillum si ghus gayi hai humar khopadiya mein, kabhi bhi kahin se shuru ho jaati hai…aage-peechhe, peechhe-aage’. The same vouches for another reference to the film’s back & fourth narrative. The remedy lies in the revenge. Manjhi must fight the evil; in this particular case, a mammoth, invincible and insensitive mountain. The true love needs to pass the test and the only way out is, “Don’t stop till it’s over.” And thus, begins the wrestle between the two taking 22 years to reach a climax in favor of the most unbeatable spirit of a helpless looking man with just a hammer and a chisel in his hands.

Ketan Mehta is blessed with an eagle eye to look out for inspirational real-life stories from the past [SARDAR, MANGAL PANDEY- THE RISING, RANG RASIYA] but this time, his luck takes a giant leap in terms of finding Dashrath Manjhi in Nawazuddin’s chameleon-beating talent of owning a character so much that it could blur all the lines in between the two. The film gets off-track more than a couple of times when Ketan decides to provide some half-hearted, easy, filmy and feeble elements of desperate entertainment values [His buffoonery act on the first encounter with his would-be wife, for instance] but don’t lose your faith in Nawazuddin as he constantly manages to surprise you with his unimpeachable acting skills. If watching him romance with one of the most sizzling actresses of today’s times Radhika Apte is delightful, then his monologues with the mountain are simply worth-whistling. You can’t afford to miss any of the expressions he wears on his face so responsibly. His performance can only be expressed better in his own words on screen, “Shaandar! Jabardast!! Zindabad!!!”

Radhika Apte as Manjhi’s wife is here again to win some serious accolades. Though she misses a shot or two while perfecting the pitch and parlance of a rural-tribal inhabitant, she is in good form. Tigmanshu Dhulia repeats his GANGS OF WASSEYPUR role as the mean & malevolent Mukhiya of the village. Late Asharaf-ul-Haque as Manjhi’s Father is pitch-perfect. This is probably the best and the lengthiest role of his lifetime. Heartbreakingly, he couldn’t be here to enjoy the praise. Prashant Narayanan does his bit good in first part but later, returns only to kill it with a typecast transformation. Deepa Sahi surprises in her one and only appearance. Music is one big letdown. They try hard to sound authentically connected to the pace and the place but sadly, never reach the mark of satisfaction.

MANJHI- THE MOUNTAIN MAN is undeniably Ketan Mehta’s one of the bests; mostly because of two individuals. In Dashrath Manjhi, he finds an extraordinary hero who never surrenders to anything in his road to deliverance. And an excellent player of unswerving performance in his screen version Nawazuddin! Had it been less theatrical and more profound in its nature, MANJHI- THE MOUNTAIN MAN would have been definitely the best film of the year. The task is not completed but you’ll love the MAN at work! [3.5/5]       

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