By: Keyur Seta
‘Common Man’ is no ordinary title. The term has given a unique and respectful identity to a large majority of Indians falling into the middle-class and upper middle-class category. They may be divided by religion, caste, language, region or what not, but they stand united under the umbrella of ‘Common Man’.
This title has given them a voice. It has highlighted the fact that the betterment of India can only take place when the life of people falling in this category is bettered. This can be seen from the fact that the main agenda of each political party in India is to serve the Common Man. Whether they have been able to achieve it is a different story. Hence, it won’t be an overstatement that ‘Common Man’ is a revolutionary title.
Today, the person who coined this title breathed his last. India’s greatest cartoonist R K Laxman returned to heavenly abode at a Pune hospital after a prolonged illness at the age of 94. May his soul Rest In Peace.
There is no doubt that he was an excellent cartoonist; easily the best the country has seen. However, he has influenced my life more by his ‘Common Man’ feature. In fact, I live this theory every moment as it has become the most important philosophy of my life.
Needless to say, the name of this blog is solely influenced by Laxman’s ‘Common Man’. Although I also considered Naseeruddin Shah’s character in A Wednesday while naming it, the germ of this philosophy was created by Laxman. Today, the name of my blog has played a large role in whatever little acceptance it has received from readers, friends and well-wishers. All thanks to R K Laxman!
The man has passed away but his legacy of ‘Common Man’ will be kept alive in various ways. The ‘Common Man’ might fail every now and then but he will never get tired.
By: Keyur Seta
Actress Kangana Ranaut has spoken about herself during her innumerable interviews. However, very few of us know that she considers Swami Vivekananda as her biggest inspiration and motivation. She spoke about this little known aspect about her life during the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai.
“There was a time in my life when I couldn’t face tough situations. I was a lot confused about a lot of things. One day, my Yoga Guru gave me few books on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. That changed everything. His book on Karma Yoga provided me with a lot of inspiration. Only I can understand how his teachings gave me another birth. I am Vivekananda’s product,” said Kangana with a broad smile.
She added, “I always wanted to connect with R K Mission. I am happy that I finally got a chance to be here and speak.”
As always, the address by Swami Sarvalokananda, secretary of RKM Mumbai, contained messages for the youth. “When Swamiji went to the west, he used to proudly say that he is from India. But today’s youth show a lot of hesitation to reveal that.” While speaking on leadership, he said, “We need servant leadership.”
Arunagiri Mudaaliar, Chairman and Chief Mentor of E Cube India, pointed out how Vivekananda’s teachings also help management students. “His most important teaching which the management students adhere to is – Before managing external environment, manage yourself internally.”
Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor at BARC and Dr Srikumar Banerjee, from the Atomic Energy Commission, Mumbai also spoke about the relevance of Vivekananda’s message in today’s times.
A large number of school and college students were invited for the event since Vivekananda’s birthday is also celebrated as National Youth Day in India. This time, his birth tithi coincided with his birthday.
By: Keyur Seta
Rating: * * * *
The basic motto of a biopic is to do complete justice to the person on whom it is based. The next challenge for such genre of films is to leave behind a solid impact on the heart and mind of the viewer through his message or teachings. Om Raut’s Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush succeeds in both areas while also making sure it is not just any other freedom fighter biopic.
Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush focuses on the life of India’s freedom fighter, journalist, teacher and social reformer, Bal Gangadhar Tilak aka Lokmanya Tilak from the time he was a college student till the end of his life. The film highlights his fight against the British rule through various means and its consequences.
The story of a newspaper journalist (Chinmay Mandlekar), based in today’s times, is also narrated simultaneously. Hailing from Mumbai’s middle-class, he is about to marry his rich fiancée (Priya Bapat). But a chance incident ignites some serious inner conflict within him.
Biopics face a danger of becoming a bit boring or a drag, making it unacceptable for the youth. But Lokmanya steers clear from it. Through a riveting screenplay, powerful dialogues and appealing presentation, you are kept engrossed. It also makes sure that the protagonist’s inspiring lines don’t turn out to be fake or corny. Although the film is filled with soul-stirring events, the sequence about the explanation of the Bhagvad Gita and the sad truth during opening credits deserve mention.
But as mentioned before, the film stands apart from the usual biopics. This is due to the story of the journalist, based in today’s era, which is connected to the life story of Tilak. This aspect will break your heart about the kind of lives people are living today. It will force you to question not only others but also yourself.
Lokmanya has few issues though. The commercial element in some sequences should have been toned down. But the biggest question mark is the change of heart of a supporting character, which is unconvincing.
Ajit-Sameer’s music enhances the proceedings to a greater level, especially the theme song. The same can be said for the technicalities (camerawork, background score and editing), production values and costume designing.
Lokmanya wouldn’t have been reached this level without Subodh Bhave’s brilliant enactment of the protagonist. With a powerful and heartwarming act, he shows why he is one of the finest artists around. Sameer Sanjay Vidwans too shines in the role of Gopal Ganesh Agarkar.
Chinmay Mandlekar succeeds in displaying frustration and helplessness, mostly through his expressions. Priya Bapat too plays her part perfectly. Angad Mhaskar, as Daiji Khare, Prashant Uthale, as Chapekar, and the rest of the actors play their parts well. However, the actor in the role of Swami Vivekananda is a miscast.
Overall: Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush is an ideal film for today’s youth to know this important personality from India’s freedom struggle. It is expected to do well at the box office.
Director: Om Raut
Writers: Om Raut and Kaustubh Savarkar
Producers: Neena Raut Films and Emmay Entertainment
Cast: Subodh Bhave, Chinmay Mandlekar, Sameer Sanjay Vidwans, Priya Bapat
Genre: Period Drama
Rating: * * * * ½
By: Keyur Seta
It is very difficult to commence the review of a film like PK. However, I have no problems with it at all because this writer’s block is an outcome of the greatness of the film. This is exactly how the Rajkumar Hirani film can be described – one of the greatest movies ever by a master filmmaker!
PK tells the story of Jagat Jananai (Anushka Sharma) aka Jaggu, who is studying in Belgium. Her chance encounter with Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh Rajput) blossoms into love but all doesn’t go well for them. Sometime later, she meets a weird man, who calls himself PK (Aamir Khan). Just like his appearance and talks, PK has a weird mission. What is it? And who exactly is PK?
Although the subjects of Hirani’s previous three films were entirely different from one another, they had a common link in the content, which was a work of excellence. The same is repeated here too in a novel concept. The entire film is a pleasurable mixture of delightful, thought-provoking, emotional and hilarious situations. And like his previous films, here too Hirani and co-writer Abhijat Joshi have put forth their message in a brilliantly creative and entertaining manner.
But the biggest overwhelming factor here is the manner in which the film gives complete thumbs down to the so-called Godmen and, more so, to those who constantly divide us on the basis of religion for their own shoddy benefit. In fact, it gives a fantastic slap to the political class and so-called religious organizations spreading venom these days. It is a huge co-incidence that it has released exactly at a time when there are continuous efforts being made to divide us.
Like Hirani’s previous efforts, this one too has glaring errors. The biggest one is the base of the most important plot twist. But, again, like his previous film, it hardly bothers you for the experience it provides in return. The subject makes you recall Umesh Shukla’s Oh My God, but the main story is nowhere similar to it.
When I have already labeled the film as one of the greatest ever, it is needless to say that it scores high in the technical department too. Murlidharan Raja has done a fine work as the cinematographer. The special effects, background score and editing deserve praise too. The music also falls in the impressive category. Songs like ‘Chaar Kadam’, ‘Bhagwan Hai Kahan Re Tu’, ‘Love Is A Waste Of Time’ and ‘Tharki Chokro’ stay with you long after the film.
Like all brilliant films, the performances in PK too are highly praiseworthy. Aamir Khan keeps getting better with every film. He continues it with PK too and how! Only an actor with such high caliber of talent and dedication can pull off a character as novel, difficult and complicated as this one. His Bhojpuri talks are simply a delight!
Anushka Sharma too joins in with a mature performance. Saurabh Shukla is outstanding as a fake Godman. Sushant Singh Rajput has a cameo but he leaves behind a mark. Sanjay Dutt and Boman Irani, in extended cameos, are lovable. Parikshit Sahni provides decent support.
Overall: PK is not only Hirani’s best effort, it is a masterpiece. It provides a spiritual experience worth indulging into more than once. With such content and massive excitement, it is sure to break box office records with its enormous collections.
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Producers: Vinod Chopra Productions, Rajkumar Hirani Films and UTV Motion Pictures
Writers: Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi
Cast: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Saurabh Shukla, Sushant Singh Rajput, Sanjay Dutt
Music: Shantanu Moitra and Ajay-Atul
By: Keyur Seta with valuable inputs from Padmanabh Subramanian
Whenever a list of most memorable films from a particular country or film industry is made, it is obvious that it will only contain names of box office successes. However, there are quite a few films, at least in Hindi cinema, which have become cult classics over the years despite the fact that they didn’t succeed at the ticket window when they released.
Films like Jane Bhi Do Yaaro and Andaz Apna Apna are classic examples of such films. But they slowly started gaining huge appreciation in the following years after they were screened on television and cable channels, so much so that now they are labeled as ‘classics’. Over the last decade or so, yet another Hindi film has achieved this status in spite of its box office fate.
Ashutosh Gowariker’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Swades found a lot of takers when it released in December 2004, especially the lovers of meaningful cinema, despite its strictly average box office performance. Like the aforementioned two films, its appreciators kept on increasing over the last decade at a rapid pace and the film gained a respectful status of Gowariker and Shah Rukh’s one of the best works.
Today, Swades completes exactly 10 years of its release. The film is known for striking an emotional chord with the viewer without or hardly saying much. It is this simple visual narration that is largely responsible for the film gaining such applause.
So let’s have a look at the film’s most memorable scenes, which say a lot without saying much:
- The first one that comes to our mind is the one where Mohan Bhargav buys a glass of water from a child vendor. In fact, this can even go down as one of the most memorable scenes from Bollywood. By just showing the character purchase and consume the water, the writer and director have portrayed Mohan’s massive change of heart, or hriday parivartan, since, before this scene, he strictly drank only packaged water. Of course, SRK’s brilliant expressions also say it all.
- The climax sees Mohan returning to Charanpur, India forever after quitting his lucrative job at NASA. But such major story development is shown without any rona dhona and by just a sweet Kushti scene. In spite of this, it succeeds in moving you.
- The village of Charanpur strictly followed caste system, wherein the members of the ‘upper caste’ stay away from the ones of a ‘lower caste’. In the song ‘Yeh Tara Woh Tara’, the protagonist gives an overwhelming message against this division by making the kids, sitting at the area reserved for ‘lower castes’, pass over and sit in the area reserved for ‘upper castes’. Once again, a strong message without dramebazi.
- The film also speaks about Indian culture. This was seen the most in the pre-climax as Geeta (Gayatri Joshi) gives a teary farewell to Mohan. But as per the intelligent narration in the rest of the film, there is no gyan giving on Bharatiya Sanskriti. Geeta makes her point about the same by just presenting a box to Mohan with few items that would enable him recall India.
- In this particular scene, Melaram wants to point it out to Mohan that there is no point going away from our near and dear ones in our country and serving some other country. But all he says is, “Apni chaukhat ka diya and giving light to neighbor’s house.” It says all!
- Kaveri Amma hands over Mohan the task of recovering money from Haridas, who stays far away from Charanpur. Mohan is deeply hurt to see the abject poverty Haridas is facing. However, he hardly expresses this and lets his expressions speak. Even while he is returning, he keeps the same expression throughout the journey.
By: Keyur Seta
The ever-increasing medical cost is fast becoming a big reason for increasing number of deaths currently in India. Sundari Raju lost her husband due to the same reason. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, his troubles started increasing and with that, his medical bills too. “There came a time when he was required to take four injections per month and each cost Rs 8,000. So it was impossible for us to afford it. I wish I could have afforded. He would have been alive then,” she said.
She was speaking on the occasion of Patient Solidarity Day in Mumbai, where doctors, patients, members of patient groups, pharmacists, bloggers and laymen had assembled for a round table discussion on how to provide proper access to healthcare for all patients across India. The event was organized through the efforts of Dr Bejon Misra, Partnerships for Safe Medicines (PSM) India, Consumer Online Foundation and International Alliance of Patients’ Organization (IAPO).
When it comes to the high cost of medicines and treatment, the mention of multinational companies, which manufactures medicines, shouldn’t come as a surprise. “MNCs are here to make money. Philanthropy is not their goal; it will never be. Government wants to do something about this. But they won’t unless we and various NGOs keep pushing. They also have to listen to courts so we should use that option too. Medical Council of India can also help,” said Dr Salunke.
Another doctor present at the discussion raised the point of new doctors forced to recover the enormous amount they spent to study medicine. “People spend around Rs 1 crore in private medical colleges. So obviously they won’t do any social service. Government also keeps spending more on private colleges rather than government run colleges. The ratio of both types of colleges is very high in favor of private colleges.” He also stressed on the need for qualified nurses, who can take away half of the headache of the doctor.
India has also become home to diseases like Fibromyalgia. Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli, who is suffering from it, expressed the need to spread awareness about it as hardly anyone in India knows about it. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculo-skeletal pain, stiffness and tenderness of muscles and joints and also psychological issues. “Today I am at this event. So tomorrow or day after I might have to take bed rest. There are cases where parents ask their daughters to be active despite being diagnosed with the disease and not disclose it to their prospective grooms. But the daughters don't wish to lie. There is an urgent need to include study of Fibromyalgia in medical curriculum,” said Anuradha and her demand was agreed upon by Dr Misra.
Since recent times, there has been a constant demand of making generic medicines available to patients as their cost is much lower. “Generic medicines are available in Tamil Nadu. So if they can be made available in TN, why not in Maharashtra? Our ex-Health Minister Suresh Shetty also didn’t do anything for this in 10 years,” continued Salunke. Dr Jahangir also echoed his sentiments and expressed bewilderment at some doctors criticizing it. “I can’t believe a doctor criticizing generic medicines. Rather than letting a patient die, let him get treatment.”
The situation in rural areas was also described. Said Dr Ketan Parekh, “Twenty percent districts in Maharashtra don’t have a pediatric surgeon, whereas 2% of all new born babies require immediate surgery. A list of 80 doctors, who were willing to volunteer, was given to the government. But there was no response.” Salunke also added an incident he witnessed at a village. “A doctor was giving just 1 cc injection dose to patients. When I asked him the reason for giving such a tiny dose, he said they have just one bottle of dose and the number of patients is 35.”
This wasn’t one of those events where people would discuss and then just disperse. Dr Bejon Misra announced and assured that the discussion will be followed by action. “We will collect evidences and each one present in this room (for discussion) will come together to make sure our voice reaches to the people in power. If they don’t listen, we will be compelled to go to courts. Universal healthcare should become a reality and not just remain a dream.”
More pictures from the discussion:
By: Keyur Seta
Mumbai’s Versova locality is a residence for the rich and the super-rich of the city. As the price of a single apartment is easily over Rs 2 crore, it is impossible for the middle-class to reside in this suburban vicinity. This is solely the reason for the area to be home for a large number of film and television artists. Hence, owning a big apartment in this part of the city is proof enough of a family or a person’s healthy financial condition.
The same is the case with Dubey’s, who lived on the 10th floor of a typical posh Versova tower, overlooking a famous multiplex. With Mr Dubey striking gold in his garment business since more than a decade, his house is blessed with all the luxuries Mrs Dubey could ask for. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the family has maids and servants for every household chore. This ensures that Mrs Dubey can spend her day mostly watching television and socializing while their only child, Rajiv, juggles between school and coaching classes.
On one morning at around 11 am, Devi, their maid, returned with a stock of vegetables for the family. Like her normal routine, she stored them in the fridge. It was like an age old exercise except for the fact that the plastic bag carrying potatoes was torn, which the maid didn’t notice before storing. So the main bag, in which Devi carried all vegetables, had few potatoes left.
Around three hours later, Mrs Dubey ventured into the kitchen for her post-lunch fruit session when she noticed few potatoes lying in the bag. Cursing the maid, she decided to put them with the main stock.
Not so far away from Versova falls the locality called Oshivara. There isn’t much difference between Versova and Oshivara but for the presence of some shanties in the latter. In one such namesake of a home stayed Shanta with her seven-year-old son Ramesh. Her husband and Ramesh’s father passed away few years back after falling prey to alcoholism. Considering their situation and the place they call home, it is needless to say that they literally lived from hand-to-mouth. Plus, Shanta’s self-respect doesn’t allow her to ask or beg for food from anyone.
Shanta, off late, has been in a dilemma as to whether she should continue sending Ramesh to the government school as her income as a sweeper and through some odd jobs is clearly not sufficient to support the two in today’s price-rise era. She is toying with the idea of getting Ramesh employed as a worker in a nearby plywood store. Her idea has created a bad blood between the mother and son as the latter wishes to study.
The tussle between the two reached a new level today. There were literally no vegetables left and there was still time before she got her next payment. On top of that, the vegetable vendor had plainly refused credit any more. This was enough for Shanta to force Ramesh in giving up studies so that he can earn. Although deep inside she didn’t like this at all, the thought of starving was too scary for her to ignore.
After a lot of conflict, Shanta announced, “Okay. If we get some food by today evening through some miracle, I will let you continue your school. If God really wants you to study, he will arrange something for our stomach by evening. If not, you should join that store from tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, while feasting her eyes on the sunset at Versova beach from Dubey’s apartment and at the same time speaking with someone over the phone, the chief maid was waiting for the woman who brings groceries for the family from the market. When the woman arrived, the chief maid signaled her to take the main bag and the money kept in the kitchen, which was the normal practice since months.
When Shanta picked up the main bag, she felt some heaviness. When she peered in she realized there were a few potatoes. She was highly surprised. But soon a wide smile emerged on her face. She recalled how Mrs Dubey had long back handed over few extra vegetables to her. She was sure she had done the same again. Now, she didn’t need to drop Ramesh from school.
“God wants Ramesh to continue studying,” she happily thought while leaving the house. How would she know that a phone ring had stopped Mrs Dubey for storing those potatoes after which she forgot about it? Few potatoes were no big deal for Mrs Dubey. But for Shanta, they were not only a big deal but a new lease of life.
When an unintentional distribution of food can bring more than a ray of hope, just imagine the positive effect of a small amount of intentional donation by those with surplus wealth. Considering India has 100 billionaires (out of the 2325 worldwide) and many rich and super-rich, it is surely not a big deal for them.
By: Keyur Seta
We are well aware that well-known lyricist and script writer Prasoon Joshi has penned a heartwarming song/ slogan for the ongoing Swachha Bharat Abhiyan by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sung by Kailash Kher, the song is called ‘Swachh Bharat Ka Irada’.
But he didn’t want his contribution to be limited to this. He was keen to contribute physically too by literally cleaning up a locality. So he took up the task of cleaning the garbage laden compound of Sofi Mahal Building in Mumbai’s Lalbaug. He was joined by bloggers - myself and Heena Shah Dedhi and few volunteers. This particular event was called Clean Sweep and it was in association with IndiBlogger.
Children in Lalbaug’s Sofi Mahal building were unable to play cricket in their compound since long due to the presence of huge amount of garbage being dumped there. But after Joshi’s initiative, the kids were finally able to resume play much to their joy. The occasion was celebrated with a professional cricket match between the two teams of the locality.
“This initiative has induced consciousness in the country regarding cleanliness. It’s not that people didn’t know what cleanliness is. But in spite of that, there was this inertia regarding this issue. Even in this locality, it wasn’t that people were unaware about keeping their surroundings clean, which would also enable these kids to play. But I am glad that our PM’s initiative has spread awareness about this,” says Joshi.
An interesting thing about the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is that the celebrity, who cleans up a locality, should nominate 9 people for the same task. “I was nominated by Anil Ambani. I have nominated Kiran Rao (producer and Aamir Khan’s wife), Venu Srinivasan (CMD of TVS Motors), Mr Birla, Shankar Mahadevan (composer and singer), Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (spiritual guru), Irrfan Khan (actor), Jeev Milkha Singh (golfer), Nitish Kapoor (CEO Reckitt Benckiser [Dettol]) and Aman and Ayan Ali (music composers).”
There is always a section of the public that is cynical for every social movement. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is no different. Joshi has a message for people with such a mindset. “To those who keep saying that we will gain nothing from this, I would like to assert that if I am asked to choose between doing something and not doing anything, I will always choose the former. Of course, there won’t be change overnight. But there will definitely be some difference. In our culture, we are asked to keep our hearts clean. But now it is high time we clean up our country too.”
Obviously, the success of this initiative largely depends on whether the masses would stop littering the roads. Like many others, Joshi too feels they should be penalized. “There is a need for a law. If there is fear of getting caught and fined, people will stop doing it. Plus, they also need to be taught the difference between dry and wet waste and how to separate it.”
Even the most humongous task starts with a single step. Here’s hoping that this single step is followed by million more.
By: Keyur Seta
According to Business Standard, 100 of the 2325 billionaires are from India. In this way, our country ranks sixth in the list of most number of billionaires in a country. This sounds as an achievement, doesn’t it? Not for me though because daily millions of people in India face starvation; of which many are children.
Hence, I have no qualms in saying that there is nothing delightful in the fact that India has 100 billionaires when millions of kids are struggling to overcome a necessity as basic as food. As per 2014, India ranks 55th in Global Hunger Index.
So obviously, these kids are forced to skip education in order to make ways to feed their stomachs. Looking at such a tragic scenario, the question that lurks in our hearts is whether it is possible for these kids to get proper education and at the same time feed their stomachs at least two square meals per day. The answer to this, according to me, is a big YES!
In fact, I am sure that India has enough wealth to completely wipe out poverty. This might sound too fairytale-ish. But this is possible if all the rich, super-rich and few above them contribute few percentage of their income towards eliminating poverty. Considering the number of such people we have, this contribution will count to a humongous amount. In this way, I am also trying to indicate that poverty is just a consequence of unequal distribution of national income.
When eliminating poverty is a reality, making sure that every child in India gets access to both education and food isn’t a big deal. There are various ways to achieve this goal. These are few of them:-
Government: Both State and Central Governments have enough funds to make sure no child needs to skip education to feed himself. They can start various schemes or plans for the same. The best idea is to start a free canteen in government run schools that would enable kids to have a proper lunch. Of course, getting them to do something so useful is very difficult. So it is necessary for various NGOs and social organizations to keep pressurizing them.
Surplus: This idea is inspired from Amole Gupte’s movie Stanley Ka Dabba. There are hundreds of buffet restaurants in all Indian cities. Naturally, they face a situation of surplus food almost daily. Most of the times, this food is simply wasted. Instead, this food can easily be used to feed a large number of underprivileged kids. The same can be done by normal restaurants and wedding venues. The latter always has a large amount of surplus. Last year, some social organization had started a similar campaign from the surplus food from tiffins supplied by Mumbai’s dabbawalas.
Special Caterers: Government or NGOs can start a catering service with the sole motto of feeding underprivileged kids. People like us can sponsor meal or foodstuffs online or by visiting them. This is how it works – You visit their website and select the number of meals you wish to sponsor with one meal costing as low as Rs 20. So even if we sponsor one or two meals daily, it will help feed lakhs of children.
Recently, The Mind Unleashed shared a message on Facebook – Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Let us all believe in it.
By: Keyur Seta
Rating: * * * * ½
The biggest challenge while portraying a tragedy is to make it look as realistic as possible. And when the disaster is as magnanimous as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, it becomes all the more testing, not just for the filmmaker but for everyone involved. The same challenge awaited director Ravi Kumar and his team for Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, which is based on the said tragedy in 1984.
To say that they have overcome the challenge will be an understatement. What they have achieved is nothing short of a benchmark for realistic cinema because it just can’t get more realistic than this. But the reason why the film on the whole can be labeled as excellent is the fact that it scores high in every department.
The movie is English with partly Hindi. The story takes place in Bhopal in 1984. Dilip (Rajpal Yadav) is a rickshaw driver staying in a slum in the central area of the city with his wife (Tannishtha Chatterjee) and younger sister (Fagun Ivy Thakrar). His family struggles to live from hand-to-mouth from his earnings. Dilip gets a new lease of life when he lands a job at the newly-arrived Union Carbide’s pesticide plant.
Although Dilip is happy to have found a source of earning despite uneasy conditions, he is worried to know that the safety standards at the plant are being ignored. Soon, this leads to a fatal leakage of the poisonous Methyl Isocyanide that kills thousands in a single night making it the worst man-made industrial disaster ever. Even 30 years after the incident, thousands continue to suffer from its consequences.
The base of all great films is writing and that is exactly the case here with a watertight screenplay and real yet dramatic dialogues. To top it up, Kumar has handled the subject with utmost precision. The manner in which he has added realism to such utterly difficult scenes, especially the tragic ones, is to be seen to be believed. As stated earlier, it can’t get more realistic! To carry out such a task in just your second film is no mean achievement.
Naturally, this gives rise to a number of scenes that stay etched in your memory. From these, Dr Chandra (Manoj Joshi) trying to select one person from many whom he can administer an antidote deserves special mention.
Another reason why the film scores high marks is that it doesn’t get depressing despite it being based on one of the greatest tragedies ever. This indicates that its motto is not to bring back terrible memories but to highlight the importance of human safety over profits.
It is difficult to choose a negative point here. Probably the number of characters could have been reduced and the life of the people of Bhopal, especially the slums, could have been portrayed more. This could have been possible as the film’s length isn’t much.
Coming to the technicalities, the VFX team should be lauded as they had their task cut out. Cinematographers Charlie Wuppermann and Anil Chandel have succeeded in displaying their skills. The background score is apt for the proceedings. The fast-paced classical tunes used at the start help a lot in generating interest instantly.
The performances are a top-draw too! Rajpal Yadav gives his best performance till date as far as his serious roles are concerned. Veteran Martin Sheen is excellent as the CEO of Union Carbide. Kal Penn is brilliant too in the role of the cunning journalist. Mischa Barton plays the journalist from US with perfection.
Tannishtha Chatterjee once again proves she is one of the most talented actors in the country. In the role of the doctor, Manoj Joshi is flawless! Akhil Mishra and Joy Sengupta also deserve praise. Satish Kaushik creates an impact in a cameo while Fagun Ivy Thakrar too provides good support.
Overall: Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is an excellent piece of realistic cinema that shouldn’t be missed. The film requires good word-of-mouth to succeed at the box office when it releases in India on December 5.
Director: Ravi Kumar
Producers: Sahara Movie Studios and Rising Star Entertainment
Writers: David Brooks and Ravi Kumar
Cast: Rajpal Yadav, Martin Sheen, Mischa Barton, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Manoj Joshi, Akhil Mishra, Fagun Ivy Thakrar
Music: Benjamin Wallfisch
Genre: Period Drama
Duration: 96 minutes
Release Date: December 5, 2014 (India)