The movie loses plot after second half

Mumbai: Aarakshan, as the title suggests, is an issue-based film, that of reservation for the various underprivileged sections of the Indian society. The theme itself defines its audience between those who care about the issue and those who will want to watch it for its entertainment quotient.

The film has already become a victim of a section of politicians and a cause for major media debate, having been banned in certain states despite being duly censored. This deters makers from attempting a film on social debate in future.

Amitabh Bachchan, befitting his personality, is a very principled head of an institution run by a trust which he has taken to top position in the state where every parent wants his ward to study.

However, there are those who resent his steadfastness, such as Manoj Bajpayee, the vice principal of the college. While Amitabh Bachchan believes in maintaining the honour of the profession of imparting knowledge, Bajpayee considers it a money making business and against the college‘s policy, runs his own coaching classes. Also a party to his plans is a politician, Saurabh Shukla, and a college trustee whose son has been denied admission on the grounds of merit.

They finally manage to remove Amitabh Bachchan from his post and install Manoj Bajpayee as the principal. All this occurs in the backdrop of the debate over the reservation policy endorsed by the Supreme Court.

So far so good, as the film exudes some youthful atmosphere, romance and some verbal encounters over the reservation policy. But as it moves to its second half, the film loses the plot; things like Manoj Bajpayee taking possession of Amitabh Bachchan‘s house and opening a thriving coaching class there is farfetched as is the latter‘s opening free coaching class in a stable across the street for poor with no bar on others to counter Manoj Bajpayee‘s greed and ambitions.

The free coaching class, known as Tabela Class, soon draws pupils in hordes including many from Manoj Bajpayee‘s classes. The film then stretches its honest Vs corrupt and greedy politicians and administrators while glorifying endlessly the protagonist‘s virtues in a most predictable style, seen in scores of films before. It finally reaches a climax in the most routine way with the institutions chief patron, Hema Malini, popping up suddenly from her 32-year hiatus.

The script is insipid and the direction lacks the expected flashes of brilliance. The pace is too slow. Musical score does not lend much to the proceedings. Editing is slack. Bachchan is his usual self while Tanvi Azmi‘s casting gives the cast some freshness. Saif Ali Khan and Prateik are good and jell well as friends. Deepika is passable. Bajpayee is convincing as a conniving tutor.

Aarakshan in totality is a dry film with a debate on a system few would be interested in even over a drink; as a film certainly not.

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