* Spoiler Alert
** But read it, you might just save on precious money and useless time.
So every now and then, you come across a movie that generates a lot of hype thanks to its premise, powerful soundtrack, star cast, director, etc. And Satyagraha, with the entire political theme, the Bachchans, Devgns, Kapoor Khans and and Rampals seemed like Just the kind of movie you’d spend 2 hours and 15 minutes worth of time, 280 bucks of tickets and 200 bucks of snacks on.
As far as my taste in movies goes, I prefer movies with serious, relatable topics like politics, over mushy romances which star people on whose foreheads you can Boeing 747s, or mindless comedies starring larger than life characters. And Satyagraha, with its uncanny resemblance to Anna Hazare and the Aam Aadmi Party looked quite promising. The promos reminded me of Rajneeti, which while not brilliant, was quite decent. The rock rendition of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram was really awakening the patriotic India Shining Democracy Rox Yo cells inside me and so I didn’t think twice before saying yes to when my friend offered to watch the movie. But oh well, little did I know that the movie, instead of being a political drama would turn out to be a lawlfest with no logic, irritating characters, and an extremely sad representation of revolutions fueled by social media.
The movie begins with Ajay Devgn portrayed as one of those brilliant peeps who is going abroad for his PG, and wants to set up his own mobile telecommunications business after coming back. Clearly our brilliant man wasn’t clever enough to do an industry analysis to figure out that this is the worst time to enter into a mobile telecommunications business. But anyway, he decides to visit his college friend once before he leaves. The friend has a father in Amitabh Bachchan. Now here’s where our problems begin. Amitabh is shown as a generally disgruntled and frustrated school teacher who loves lecturing people. So our teacherji gives Devgn a huge lecture on how he wouldn’t understand what patriotism towards ones country and values means just because he is very motivated by personal profitability more than anything else. I’m not saying that this dialogue hasn’t been used before but it’s completely out of place and out of time in modern India where everyone is encouraging youngsters to think outside the box and start their own ventures. I mean, what’s so bad if I want to start a business and make it profitable? That’s what they bloody teach in all the premier institutes in your country, uncle! So after listening to Bachchan’s endless tirade, our man Devgn, like anybody else, just gulps down his whiskey, forgets about it and goes abroad.
Fast forward 3 years, and our man Devgn is back in town and companies are looking to buy out his business or mention their political contacts to establish relationship with him. But nope, our guy ain’t gonna let go so easy, because “Jab tak main apne sapno se puri tarah khel nahi leta, tab tak main unhe bechta nahi!”
Yeah, sure. So anyway, not going into too much detail, Bachchan’s son and Devgn’s friend is portrayed as an architect who is designing a flyover. The typical flyover falls because of spurious material, officer makes report, is killed and killing is made to look like an accident story follows. Bachchan and his son’s (extremely hot) wife Amrita Rao is distraught. Government promises a sum of money, and Ms. Rao intends to build a school with it. Except that she has to bribe to actually get the money. She tells Bachchan about the story, the man gets pissed off and goes and slaps the district collector and is subsequently thrown into jail. Ms. Rao panics and calls Mr. Devgn, who then decides to do all in his power to get the old man out. After failing to do by legal means or bribes, our brilliant man decides to spark a revolution to get Bachchan out. Taking the help of local goon cum Samaj Sewak Arjun Rampal, he gathers the crowds through social media campaigns and gets Bachchan out.
But this part is where shit really hits the ceiling. First of all, the social media uprising sounds like a perfectly plausible scenario, but it is extremely tastelessly done. The people shown following Devgn are shown to be doing this just because, well, we’re teenagers, we’re pissed off and we gotta do something. They don’t relate to the cause at all. They just do it because, well, teenagers gotta have some fun yo! Bachchan is released and makes it his personal mission to force the government into accepting the people’s demands. The people follow and “Junta Rocks” becomes their motto. Countless tweets and Facebook posts with #juntarocks follow.
My basic problem here is that as someone who’s been online for many years now, and having known people who’ve actually participated in online campaigns and movements, I think it’s extremely insulting to be portrayed as people who are putting up tweets and posts just because it’s oh so cool to do that shizzle, ma nizzle. #juntarocks as a motto and hashtag would suit a Justin Bieber campaign more than something so serious in nature. All kinds of extremely stupid twitter handles such as “RevolutionDude” and gems of literature like “Daduji Falls. Government stays” are thrown around. They might as well have just named the movement “Junta Rox XoXoXo Muaaah!” or something. Not cool, man.
Kareena Kapoor Khan (yes, she is introduced like that in the credits now) is shown as a reporter whose job is mostly to just stand around, look pweety and ask rhetorical questions. It seems as if nobody is interested in taking her calls, and she promptly reminds how many missed calls she has given them whenever she meets them. In one scene, she’s shown to be extremely pissed off at Devgn because she gave him 217 missed calls, and he just randomly smooches her and they make up (and out). Because there’s nothing that some sax and romantic songs can’t fix, right??!
Arjun Rampal is shown as one of those fanatics who has no brains of his own. He’s shown to be one of the pivotal characters in the revolution but all he really does is just collecting a bunch of people with raging hormones that just want to kill everything in their path. Manoj Bajpai though does shine as the corrupt, smug, power hungry Home Minister. But in the end even his character is mostly reduced to stupid jokes rather than the menacing dialogues that we all know he is capable of delivering. Bachchan manages to irritate pretty much throughout the movie, including in the one sequence where he declares to the government – “Aapke 30 din shuru hote hain, ab!”. I mean what the hell, are we playing Kaun Banega Crorepati or something here? Devgn is fairly decent as the brooding friend who really wants to make Bachchan happy and take the revolution to its logical conclusion. But even his character suffers from huge flaws. I mean, the man just sells his 650 crores worth of company at the slightest provocation to prove his innocence and gain acceptance. Never heard of auditing firms, have we? And the shameless marketing plugs by Avon Cycles is really not getting them anywhere. Whose brilliant idea was it to sponsor the stand and put cycles where the villain in the movie is passing spiteful remarks against democracy? You do realize that people are not supposed to like him and that sponsoring him isn’t gonna take you places, right?
This is not to say that the movie doesn’t have its high points. The sequences where Devgn faces a personal dilemma to just do anything to end Bachchan’s hunger strike are quite brilliant. As are the scenes where the crowd just goes out of control because people are just so sick and tired of the system. But in the end, it just feels like a movie that had a lot of potential but just didn’t take itself seriously enough.
I should have just downloaded and watched Poonam Pandey’s Nasha instead.