‘Why Cheat India’ review: unconvincing portrayal of a complex problem

The poster of ‘Why Cheat India’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A few years ago the infamous picture of “Bihar cheating”—people climbing up the examination hall building to pass on notes to examinees — had left many incredulous. Whether the viral picture was fake or not, the problem is real. I remember growing up in Uttar Pradesh hearing tales of proxy thesis writers and PhD providers. The central conceit of Soumik Sen’s new film then rings true — using bright and needy students to fill in for rich and not so bright ones to help them clear entrance exams for much in demand courses. Rakesh aka Rocky (Emraan Hashmi) makes an enterprise out of the examination scam.

The rat race, the learning by rote culture, proliferation of coaching centres, significance of marksheets, reliance on jugaad, finding short cuts to success and buying everything — from degrees to jobs — is peculiarly Indian and could have lent itself well to an engaging, empathetic as well as sharply critical film.

Sen begins well. The lived-in small town ambience and its relatable people, a nice set of little known actors work well. Sen’s keen use of split screens, however, typifies a larger problem, metaphorically — of the film itself getting divided between the promising and the utterly disappointing. Things come crumbling down when action shifts to Mumbai and the exaggerated murkiness of the MBA scams, drugs, guns and more.

The moral position of the film as well as the central protagonist feels unconvincing in its carefully cultivated ambiguity. Emraan Hashmi’s Rocky is neither a hero nor a villain but a player. Fine! But blaming the system for an individual’s duplicitous ways and then finding a convenient awakening of conscience don’t manage to hold sway. Complex problems need complex cinema. Why Cheat India prefers to stay on the surface than dig deeper.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 2:34:46 AM |

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