CAST & CREW
“ Satyagraha” has all the trappings of a typical Prakash Jha film, with its socio-political theme, and like his previous ventures draws heavily from real life incidents and personalities. In this case, he has used Big B as the main protagonist, perhaps to add more weight and respectability to his film and the outline of this character seems rough matching the contours of Anna Hazare, the respected social activist.
Plot: It is the straightforward story of a Gandhian social activist who would fight for the cause of righteousness even at the risk of his own well-being – a character played fittingly by Amitabh Bachchan, who is called Dwarka Anand in the film. The events in the film start moving once Dwarka’s son Akhilesh ( Indraneil Sengupta in a cameo), is killed through the machinations of Balram Singh, a typical criminal politician rolled into one, portrayed by Manoj Bajpai in one more of his strikingly realistic villainous roles.
The protests and retribution for this shocking incident are soon taken up by Akhilesh’s close friend Manav, a character enacted by Ajay Devgan. Manav is an ambitious but upright and motivated tech savvy capitalist, outraged at the fate of his close friend, his vehicle for protest being the burgeoning social media. He is helped in his mission by Arjun, an ex-student of Dwarka, and a budding idealistic politician in the making, the role being played by Arjun Rampal. Akhilesh’s widowed wife Sumitra (depicted by Amrita Rao), too takes up the cause with the administration but to no avail, forcing ultimately her father in law, the social activist Dwarka to lose his temper and slap the District Magistrate.
In the swift moving incidents that follow and which lead up to the climax, Dwarka gets released on the strength of public protests and anger, and this emboldens Dwarka to go on a hunger strike demanding clearance of all similar public claims in the district. While this ultimately leads to the death of Dwarka, it also results in the arrest of Balram, signifying triumph over evil, even if temporarily. To balance the death of the main protagonist, the film ends on a positive note where Manav and Arjun form a new party to carry on Dwarka’s crusade. Kareena Kapoor also makes a brief appearance in the ‘appendaged’ role of an overseas reporter, one in which she seems to have put in a lot of efforts to appear convincing in the role. While Satyagraha is easily recognisable as a Prakash Jha film, it does not sting the viewer with its message, like it had done in his previous films on similar topics, although thematically it had the potential to do so. This film seems unduly subdued in its impact though this neutral handling has helped in some of its more dramatic personal moments of the two main protagonists. The musical score of the film, partly composed by Adesh Shrivastava also falls in line with the theme, not in a raucous manner but again in subdued tones. On the technical side, Sachin Krishn’s photography and Santosh Mandal’s editing allow the audience to remain glued to the unfolding incidents graphically and in an unflagging manner.
Verdict: Although not one of Prakash Jha’s best creations, there is enough in the film, besides the histrionics of Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan and Arjun Rampal to savour in the film.
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