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Movie Review | KAAGAZ: Poignantly charming & uplifting tale of hope

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KAAGAZ movie review is here. The biographical drama based on the life and struggle of Lal Bihari, a farmer from a small village in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India stars Pankaj Tripathi in lead. Written and directed by Satish Kaushik and produced by Salman Khan and Nishant Kaushik under the banner Salman Khan Films and The Satish Kaushik Entertainment Production. The production of KAAGAZ was nearly complete before being put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic. The movie is scheduled to premiere on 7 January 2021 on ZEE5.

KAAGAZ movie review

What to say about a movie that brings great writers like Harishankar Parsai, Sharad Joshi, actors like Sanjeev Kumar and filmmakers like Basu Chatterjee alive for those 2+ hours. Satish Kaushik’s KAAGAZ starring Pankaj Tripathi in the lead does that.

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Based on the real-life story of Bihari Lal aka Lal Bihari Mritak, a farmer activist and a dead man (yes, the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize winner was declared dead on Kagaaz (paper) between 1975 and 1994. Pankaj Tripathi plays the protagonist Lal Bihari, a small band owner who is shocked to find himself dead in records when he applies for a loan to expand his business.

Rest is how Lal Bihari fights the bureaucracy, red-tapism, the mockery / ire of the public, for 19 years to prove that he is alive. During his struggle, Lal Bihari lays the foundation for the Mritak Sangh, the Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People, to highlight other cases like his and adds Mritak to his name.

A movie like KAAGAZ is a perfect example of an extraordinary story that deserves to be told simply.

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At times when most of the people are trying to cash on the ‘grey’ liberties of violence, foul language and sex on OTT with their content greased with the above sensations though some have turned exceptionally well in their cinematic madness. Though not able to make a solidly sweeping political statement, Satish Kaushik adapts a feel good simple approach and is bang on target right from the word go. People like Lal Bihari are our part of life, the world is full of people like Lal Bihari but are they really alive, does the system care? The irony of being a common man is so beautifully captured through the sequence of kidnaping and the dacoit. Such gems turn KAGAAZ into a poignantly charming and uplifting tale of life. As the movie progresses the ‘dead’ status of Lal Bihari becomes the metaphor of our plight / condition in those government records.

KAAGAZ will remind all of us who has ever stood in lines at government offices waiting for hours and days either for gas, water, electricity, pensions, complaints, cancellations etc.

Pankaj Tripathi was born to play Lal Bihari and this act will never go Mritak (dead), it will remain unforgettable. Pankaj Tripathi pulls it off with astounding grace and sensitivity that at times reminded me of the great Sanjeev Kumar.

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Monal Gajjar is simply natural as the caring wife. Pravesh Mallick’s music deserves special mention.

Final words

KAAGAZ is an uplifting, inspiring, wakeup call in 2021. Seeing Pankaj Tripathi in one of his most memorable roles, the movie proves the calibre of the highly talented Satish Kaushik as a master in the 2021 ‘calendar’ from Death of a Salesman (Salesman Ramlal) to this social satire on the ‘Death of Bureaucracy’. Superb.

pic/poster courtesy : ZEE5

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