Prakash Jha, Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapoor.
Direction: Prakash Jha.
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Manoj Bajpai, Amrita Rao, Vipin Sharma, Indraneil Sengupta.
MUMBAI: There is cinema called Prakash Jha genre. It
is basically anti-establishment in its essence. The
usual elements involve badly skewed good-vs-bad struggles,
the usual locations, plenty of crowds and a small constituency
that is supposed to represent the national scene of
Amitabh Bachchan is the honest, retired masterji of
a small township. His principles are as tall as his
personal being. He is not always right but that is the
way he is. He has cast his son, Indraneil Sengupta,
in his very own mould. The son, an engineer, is the
head of development of a whole precinct of Ambikapur,
which is represented by the politician Manoj Bajpai
in the state assembly. A new bridge is being built with
his design, and Bajpai's brother is the contractor.
As expected, a slab from the bridge collapses and kills
many workers. The builder has used inferior materials
but the blame is put on the designer, Indraneil, who
is killed soon after. A compensation award of Rs 25
lakh for the killed workers' families is announced by
Bajpai in front of the media. Days pass but the award
is not forthcoming due to corruption. When approached,the
district collector is rude. Angry with his behaviour,
Bachchan slaps him in front of his subordinates.
Bachchan is arrested for slapping a public servant.
Enter Ajay Devgn, Indraneil's bum chum who supported
Devgn after his parents died in an accident. Devgn tries
his best, appointing a topmost lawyer and even approaching
the collector. Nothing works and he decides to start
a campaign for the release of the honest ex-teacher
through posters and MMS clips. Soon the local toughie,
Arjun Rampal, an expelled student of Bachchan, joins
the campaign with Devgn. Rampal's speciality is crowd
mobilisation. Devgn decides to rope in Kareena Kapoor,
a TV journalist from ABP News. Kareena is supposed to
travel with the PM on his Japan jaunt but Devgn convinces
her that something major is happening in Ambikapur by
sending her manipulated pictures of huge crowds. When
she arrives, she sees no crowds but not to disappoint
her, Rampal soon produces a huge mob.
Bajpai decides to play a good guy, comes personally
to his constituency and orders the release of Bachchan
and also presents him the cheque for Rs 25 lakh. But
looking at the crowd's backing, Bachchan refuses to
accept the money till corruption is totally done away
with in Bajpai's constituency. He gives a deadline of
a month for the purpose. However, Bajpai is a tough
nut to crack. He holds the ultimate power in the state
government which stands because of support of his party.
He is in the position to call the shots. This becomes
the clash of egos between Bajpai and Bachchan and his
supporters Devgn, Rampal and Amrita Rao. Kareena stays
back to cover the movement as well as to support it
and ends up falling in love with Devgn while she is
Bachchan is taunted by the widow of one of the workers
who died when the bridge slab collapsed. She tells him
it is fine for him to refuse Rs 25 lakh but because
of him even her compensation of one lakh is not forthcoming.
She and her children have to remain hungry. Bachchan
is moved and decides he too won't eat until the widow's
children get their due and the local administration
clears all the dues of the people. He is now on a satyagraha.
Don't know why hundreds of people come and stare at
the hungry Bachchan on satyagraha because for the viewer
of this movie whatever is happening becomes unbearable!
Some relief during this time comes in the form of one
of Gandhiji's favourite Bhajans, Raghupati Ragav Raja
Ram with reworked words. Since politicians like Bajpai
don't always relent, the only way to end the film seems
to be to let the armed forces out on the mob. There
is chaos and deaths and for some reason Bachchan goes
for a stroll. Devgn goes to find him when Bajpai's goons
shoot at both, killing Bachchan and hurting Devgn.
Devgn and Rampal go after Bajpai only to hand him over
to the police; not a very satisfactory way to deal with
a villain for the viewers.
Satyagraha is a dry, insipid film with a script of
convenience. Director Prakash Jha may be adept at collecting
and handling crowds but the same can't be said of scripting.
A few scenes and sequences are also taken from the film
Gandhi. Dialogue is routine. Photography is fair. Editing
is slack. Musically, the film has a couple of good songs:
the title song and Raskebhare tore naina. Performances
by all artistes are okay; the script offers no scope
for histrionics to any character.
Satyagraha has nothing except its star line-up to attract
people. But that has never been reason enough for the