You don't see the local politician coming to garland the photograph of Manjunath at his parents' home after his murder. Neither do you see the cheque he is giving his parents ensuring that the photographer has captured the moment for the tabloids and 24x7 news channels... You smell him and his motives.
You don't see Manjunath's friend and batch-mate escaping from the reality, when all along he knew what was happening. Neither do you see that all he wants is his salary, get married and keep his parents happy... You smell his fear
and 'what can I do about this' attitude.
You don't see, this movie aptly titled MANJUNATH IDIOT THA SAALA... You feel it.
You feel for this young lad whose life was brutally snuffed out for doing what he was supposed to do and refusing to take a bribe and the easy way out. He chose to walk the narrow path.
And the worst part is that you don't see anyone in the theatre watching a movie with a social message based on a true story. For the afternoon show, I was the lone viewer at a multiplex in Central Mumbai. You smell the indifference and people's apathy towards good cinema.
What we need to see is a house full and a Tax Free board.
So who was Manjunath? Frankly, I had never heard of the guy like so many others. But what Sandeep Varma has done on screen has to be lauded. He has brought alive the integrity of an employee who knew no other thing other than doing what he thought was right, the right way... even though the consequences were grave.
Manjunath is the story of a 27-year-old Manjunath Shanmugam. After passing out from the IIM, Manjunath joins an oil company. He is posted in Lakhimpur Kheri, a remote district in rural Uttar Pradesh. One day Manjunath goes missing. His friends, who know and work with him, panic, because they know that off late he had been very disturbed and was behaving very strangely. He had become very serious and scared. And this was very different from the Manjunath they knew in college, who was always jovial, fun-loving, very friendly and a great entertainer.
One of his friends finds him, but Manjunath appears very frantic. They send him back to his hometown. Manjunath's parents try to convince him to leave his job at Indian Oil that seems to be causing him stress. Initially, he seems willing but slowly he realizes that he doesn't want to be a quitter.
He realizes that the kerosene being mixed with diesel is coming from ration shops- the poor people's kerosene'. In addition, he also becomes conscious of the extent of pollution caused by burning adulterated fuel. He finds strength and comes back to fight, against his parents' wishes.
Sandeep Varma uses the actor who plays Manjunath to tell his story and this is strange and eerie at first, but soon this move of his proves to be a master-stroke as you soon connect with this unique narrative.
Manjunath was not an idoit; he paid the price for being honest.
Sasho Satish Saarthy does not play the character Manjunath... you can feel Manjunath.
MANJUNATH IDIOT THA SAALA... is a 'not to be missed' movie.