Rating: Will Watch One More Time (* * * * 1/2 – Excellent)
No matter how much I am resisting myself from saying this, I am going to say it out – “F$## you, politicians!!!”
Now let us talk about movie of the week – Manjhi – The Mountain Man and no, it is not a superhero film with any Khan or star kid in the lead. But the actor is a true superstar when it comes to acting and if at all you want to watch this movie, I would recommend to watch for superb performance by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. If I can watch movie like Kick and go through pain of watching Salman Khan for two and half hours just for the sake of enjoying this guy’s performance on-screen, then I was 100% sure that I was going to watch this movie when the trailer first came out a month and half ago. Brilliant story with superb direction, screenplay and some powerful dialogues, brought real Late Mr. Dasharath Manjhi alive on-screen through a flawless, real performance by Nawazuddin.
Story: ‘Manjhi’ is a biopic of Late Mr. Dasharath Manjhi who carved a road through the mountain after his wife died while crossing it because that was the only way to go to the other village back in 1960, until Manjhi completed promise of building a road, which he made to himself and his late wife, in 1982. He kept on digging and carving the mighty mountain for whole 22 years and no rain or draught could stop him while he was doing it. When folks were sharing photos of Dasharath Manjhi on Facebook, some 2-3 years back, one might have felt it as a fake story or some of us would never even have bothered to read about it. But the truth is the man was simply awesome or ‘complete lunatic’ as they call him in the movie. Movie starts in 1956 showing some of the teen years of Manjhi and then jumps 4 years ahead with Nawazuddin coming back to his village leaving his city job. This small village named Gehlaur, somewhere in Bihar has no mode of transportation with neighboring town because of the big mountain surrounding it. Movie takes you shortly through Manjhi’s innocent and crazy love story with his wife – Phaguniya Devi, played by Radhika Apte and some of the crazy things that he does which later explains how this man can be crazy enough to break such a big mountain all with support of basic sledge-hammer for 22 years. He does so because he thinks that his wife died due to lack of basic transportation (with that I mean a normal walking road). His wife dies while she was delivering him lunch to the other side of the mountain when she was pregnant. He managed to take her to the hospital somehow and could save his daughter but her. From that moment onwards he think that mountain is the enemy of his wife and responsible for her death and start breaking it without caring for what anyone would say.
While showing the craziness of Manjhi the movie also takes you through India’s brutal caste system existed in 60s (which does exist now as well – sad but true) and how people were deprived from basic facilities just because they were from lower castes. It also shows corrupt politician’s (from rural area to the central government – no prize for guessing that Congress was power in those times :P) unwillingness for development and providing basic needs to the poor people (again sad but true – which continues today as well).
Acting: Do I need to say anything here? I mean the whole cast is awesome. There is hardly anyone who can be blamed for poor acting in this movie. Nawazuddin has played Manjhi so flawlessly that by the time you finish the movie you have already believed that he is Manjhi. Radhika Apte played Manjhi’s wife with the same strength that it is hard to believe that Radhika is the same girl who played a city girl in movie Hunter – what a versatile actress she is! Apart from the lead actors, this movie has many other finest actors of Bollywood such as Timangshu Dhulia who played upper caste Mukhiya (leader) of the village along with Pankaj Tripathi as his son with brutality and cruelty in their respective characters. Late Mr. Ashraf Ul Haq played Nawazuddin aka Dasharath Manjhi’s father probably in his last movie of his career. Even the new face (at least for me) Gaurav Dwivedi portrayed supporting role of journalist, who supports Manjhi throughout his struggle in the entire movie, excellently.
Verdict: No question the movie is superb not because of the finest actors that it got into it but the direction of Ketan Mehta is also commendable. The overall screenplay and story narration does make you keep watching this movie, which otherwise would have been just like watching some archaeology story from History channel. I would certainly be making a mistake if I do not mention about powerful dialogues which this movie has and dialogue writer needs to be given the credit for it. Now I am not sure if those lines were from real Late Mr. Dasharath Manjhi or the writer’s but they are powerful. The best of these dialogues and my favorite must have to be – “Tum Bhagwan ke bharose baithe ho, par kya pata Bhagwan hi tumhare bharose be baitha ho”. The movie is a must watch. It shows how much the love can be crazy and it should not have to be crazy and real only when someone builds TajMahal for the lover but it can be as much crazier as to break the mountain to build a road, all alone!!!
***I would definitely like to conclude this review with some of the interesting facts (source – Wikipedia)
Mr. Manjhi completed breaking mountain and carving a 360 feet long, 30 feet wide and 25 feet deep in places unmetalled road in 22 years from 1960 – 1982. This cut down the travel distance from Gehlaur to nearest town Wazirgunj from 60 kms to 10 kms. Manjhi died in 2007 suffering from gall bladder cancer and even though Bihar government gave him state funeral, the road was still unmetalled until 2011. Finally Bihar government built a metalled road in 2011, almost after 30 years Manjhi carved the road out of the mountain, all alone. This itself explains how pro-active (or even reactive) Bihar government was.
Here is the picture of real hero – Late Mr. Dashrath Manjhi