Director: Ketan Mehta
Producers: Viacom 18, Maya Movies and NFDC
Writer: Ketan Mehta
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Pankaj Tripathi, Ashraful Haque
Music: Sandesh Shandilya
Release Date: August 21, 2015
Rating: * * *
Review By: Keyur Seta
Dashrath Manjhi was an ordinary poor man who undertook the extraordinary and impossible task of breaking a hard-rocked mountain to make road for the needy, and even succeeded in it. This became the single mission of his life after his wife succumbed to injury as she couldn’t be taken to a hospital on time due to the presence of a mountain in front of their village in Bihar.
To make a movie on such a subject is a herculean task. Director Ketan Mehta’s Manjhi – The Mountain Man does justice to the real Manjhi. But the credit should go more to Nawazuddin Siddiqui for his mind-blowingly dedicated act. The film as a whole turns out to be just a one-time watch due to some problem areas. It doesn’t quite match the expectations.
Manjhi – The Mountain Man is filled with moments that are not only appealing but also heart-wrenching. Manjhi’s dedication for his unthinkable mission even during the most inhuman of conditions moves you. It makes you wonder about the inner-strength of the real Manjhi.
As the character continuously broke the mountain for 22 long years, there was a danger that mountain-breaking scenes might become repetitive. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen. The script has taken care of it by the smart use of flashback.
But, as aforementioned, the film doesn’t rise as high as it should. Firstly, the subject doesn’t need two-hour duration. The high length is felt during various instances, mostly in the second half. Moreover, Mehta has Bollywood-ized the narrative regularly. This doesn’t go well when the tale becomes a lot tragic. Such inconsistency should have been avoided.
The mountain is not only an important part of the story but it is also a character, especially since Manjhi keeps talking to it regularly. But the process of the breaking of the mountain and building the road aren’t explained properly. After all, this is the main aim of the story.
The film achieves high quality standards when it comes to technical aspects like camerawork, background score and editing. The track ‘Phagunia’ goes with the theme.
It is Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s greatness here that will be remembered for a long time. He has masterfully pulled off a role that can be emotionally and physically draining for any actor. So, it won’t be an overstatement that Manjhi will always remain as one of his top three performances ever in his filmography. As per the words of his character, his act was ‘Shandaar Zabardast Zindabad’.
Radhika Apte once again impresses as a performer. Tigmanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Tripathi shine as baddies although their characters are carried forward from Gangs Of Wasseypur. Gaurav Dwivedi is likable as the journalist while the late Ashfaqul Haque does well too. Prashant Nayaran makes his presence felt despite playing a cameo. Deepa Sahi is decent in the role of Indira Gandhi.
Overall: Manjhi – The Mountain Man is worth watching once for Nawazuddin’s killer act. The film has a chance of earning well at the box office in the metros.