If there was one director who was in sync with what has been happening in the society and providing it a cinematic representation while the topic was still fresh in the minds of the fans, it was Prakash Jha who had fans eating out of his hands. But the latest offering SATYAGRAHA seems to point out to the fact that the honeymoon that Jha had with the audience may start to experience the convulsions. The problem with SATYAGRAHA lies in the fact that it is replete with repetitiveness, sort of rehash of touching the issues that he has so far focused upon through the rich oeuvre of films starting with DAMUL and HIP HIP HURRAY.
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First and foremost point that Prakash Jha post SATYAGRAHA needs to factor in is the star cast. While it may be the right and prerogative of the director, but it has become such a recurring feature film after film that it generates a sense of ennui, boring predictability, sameness of presentation and similarities of process of narration, sort of gravitating to vacuous sterility. The foursome in the form of Big B, Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpayee and Arjun Rampal have been presented in all form off permutations and combinations and indeed the time has come to look for some change.
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After all, in how many more ways can an Ajay Devgn appear, rebellious, frustrated and wronged? How many more templates can Manoj Bajpayee come up with to play the role of a baddie, as the underlining reference is a foxy cunningness, a demeanor of a rustic politician from the hinterland and camouflaging it as a Bollywood baddie? Prakash Jha has highlighted the issues that have been vexing the nations from criminalization of politics in GANGAAJAL to reservations in politics through AARAKSHAN and dynasty in politics through RAAJNEETI to social activism of the Anna Hazare kind through AARAKSHAN. Here one needs to underline the fact what had happened in case of Big B when he was in his heydays, and continued to be featured in Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra’s films, which ultimately led to viewers fatigue and even Big B had to go in for a sabbatical to reemerge in a new avatar.
SATYAGRAHA indeed tries to bring into relief anti-corruption, graft and grease money, but the manner in which the story has been built up through Dwarikanand (Big B) who is fighting for the honor of his murdered civil engineer son and a decent life for his widowed daughter in law and is joined in his crusade by Ajay Devgn, Arjun Rampal and Kareena Kapoor and a love triangle gravitating to usual neta-bureaucrat tom-toming, dissension within the core group and agitation going out of hand indeed if it had been captured in the manner in which it actually had happened, SATYAGRAHA could have become a land mark film. But alas! The problems posed have not been taken to the logical end at all. The song of the film- ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, uth kar karne hain kuch kaam’, indeed should be a clarion call for Jha to perhaps revisit the reference points and come up with a product of the power like GANAGAAJAL. The awareness is there, but it needs to be fine-tuned, it is a SATYAGRAHA as Jha is perhaps amongst few directors who has not become a convert to entertainment masala per se.
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