Anuj Kumar

MOHANDAS

(Spice, Noida, and other theatres in Delhi and elsewhere)

They no longer keep it as real. Cinematographer-turned-director Mazhar Kamran denudes cinema of all its pretences as he weaves the tale of a young man fighting for his identity. It comes across as life as it is in the heartland of India which is out of the radar of TRP-crazy media. Where justice could be easily buried as evidence could be bought and honesty could be transferred so that there are no ripples on the surface.

Based on the story of Uday Prakash, a noted name in Hindi literature, Kamran tells the tale of the weaver’s son, deliberately named Mohandas (played by Nakul Vaid), who studies hard to ensure a better tomorrow. He gets the grades and a coveted job in a coalmine in Annuppur only to be duped by an impersonator (Sushant Singh). When Mohandas finds that he has robbed him of his name and job, he knocks at the doors of his employers but his pleas fall on deaf ears. They want documentary proof.

A stinger reports the issue and ultimately a celebrity journalist (Sonali Kulkarni) who has managed to hold on to her conscience amid the onslaught of never-ending “breaking news” shows interest in the case. But do things change? This is the best part about the film. Mazhar has not opted for easy solutions. The media can only highlight the problem.

In comes a firebrand advocate (Aditya Shrivastav), who tries to fight the case in court. But when the local lekhpal has to investigate, factoring in caste and economic hierarchy before arriving at a decision, even an honest advocate and a competent judge (Govind Namdeo) can’t do much. Then there is always the sword of transfer hanging on the head of the competent.

Mazhar mirrors our helplessness in front of a corrupt system through a heart-wrenching screenplay and some commendable performances, particularly by Adiya. It is bereft of humour but we can do without it as there are plenty of options for that kind of entertainment.

Go for it else this variety will become extinct.

CHINTUJI

(PVR Saket and other theatres)

In a country short of icons, film stars are the last refuge for people looking for reel change in real life. Harbahedi is one such small town where corruption hasn’t found its way yet. Here people keep fast for penance and guest is synonymous with God. Some of them are searching for a famous personality who was born in the town to represent them so that they also get the perks of a VIP constituency. In comes a fading star (Rishi Kapoor) to fulfil his political ambitions and things no longer remain the same in the idyllic town.

Eminent theatre personality Ranjit Kapoor has lifted the directorial baton late in life but the effort is worth it. He has hit the nail on its head; only the impact is feeble.

It starts as a biting comment on the politics of convenience. The setting and characterisation are immensely believable. You feel for the innocent people when they decide to part with their share of electricity so that the star’s air-conditioner keeps running. But soon the proceedings get theatrical. It is good that Rishi Kapoor has agreed to play himself and we get to see the actor who seldom got his due when he was serenading around trees. But Ranjit Kapoor has made it too personal – with references to Mera Naam Joker – in the second half losing touch in the process with the task at hand. The sub-plots involving a journalist on the run (Priyanshu Chatterjee) and PR executive (Kulraj Randhawa) are unnecessary distractions.

A relevant thought which fails to graduate to the next stage.

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