Prakash Jha’s ‘Satyagraha’ is an honest endeavour to capture the wrongdoings of our statesmen by picking cues from recent social movements against the corruption. Clearly, there are flavours of the Anna Hazare revolution in the film. And although Jha manages to keep his production values high, he falls flat in making a solid impact.
‘Satyagraha’ is a socio-political drama that shows what has gone wrong in our political system. Led by Gandhian values and a deep desire to contribute to the society where he lives, Dwarka Anand (Amitabh Bachchan) is the ‘Angry Old Man’ of the 21st century fighting tooth and nail against the many social injustices prevailing at large. His Gold medallist engineer son Akhilesh’s (Indraneil Sen Gupta) mysterious death fans his cause further and he is joined by his widowed daughter-in-law Sumitra (Amrita Rao), his dead son’s best friend Manav Raghvendra (Ajay Devgn), local goon turned social worker cum aspiring politician Arjun (Arjun Rampal), and a journalist Yasmin Ahmed (Kareena Kapoor). What starts as a small-scale protest against the power hungry corrupt, takes the shape of a giant revolution.
True, ‘Satyagraha’ aims to portray the plight of the common man in a just manner and shows how the vicious government tried to derail every movement posing a threat to its position. But strictly unwanted romance and lovemaking sequences featuring Ajay and Kareena, underdeveloped mutual bonding between the characters, and lack of a substantial script makes the film entertaining only in bits and somewhat uninspiring. Add to that, this ‘Satyagraha’ ends abruptly perhaps leaving scope for a sequel.
On the performance front, the trio of Manoj Bajpai, Ajay Devgn and Amitabh Bachchan seem to fit well into the shoes of their respective characters for a fact that they have been there and done that earlier too. Remember ‘Aarakshan’, ‘Rajneeti’, ‘Gangajal’? But it is Manoj Bajpai who gets the brownie points for justifying his character of a comic-villain commendably and the delivery of some very well written sarcasm by him is quite entertaining. Amrita Rao’s character barely has any weightage and she is unconvincing in most of the emotional scenes. Kareena Kapoor rules the frame whenever she appears on-screen. But again, her scope of performance is just limited to mouthing a few ‘important’ dialogues and being present in crucial scenes like any leading lady. There is not much to say about Arjun Rampal role except that he had made most of what he had been given to do but it doesn’t stand out.
Music wise, ‘Raske bhare tore naina’ rendered by Shafqat Amanat Ali is the song that shines in the soundtrack. Otherwise the music does not do much justice to the film.
Jha’s ‘Satyagraha’ depicts how the road to freedom from the vile and corrupt government is long and not an easy one. But the audience already knows that. Unfortunately, the attempt to show this on screen is rather underwhelming.
Perhaps, we can pin some hopes with the sequel that is if there is one in the pipeline.