Looking at the current trend of Bollywood, every once in a while I used to sit and wonder as to where exactly are we heading. The stories that once used to be a fundamental of a movie somehow failed to carry the burden of the towers of the money that they were now rated on. As someone who always had a thing for meaningful cinema, I was disappointed. Perhaps, I was more disheartened than disappointed because everything was summed up in numbers. It always has been crazy rating a movie’s success based on the number it reaches on the Box Office. What about the lives the movie touches? Apparently, it accounts for nothing.
One such sigh of relief is this movie called Manjunath which also happens to be director Sandeep Varma’s first film. For those who don’t know, Manjunath Shanmugam was a graduate from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow who was killed brutally by the oil mafia at the age of 27 while trying to put a stop to the adulteration of fuel. Though its been almost nine years, the story is still fresh in everyone’s heart in the region, including my own.
Sandeep Varma as a director and incidentally the writer too for the film who sweeps you off your feet with his style of story telling. It is indeed interesting to see how he uses the first half of the movie to bring you face to face with Manjunath’s character that you get to know exactly the kind of person he was. To add to it, he does not stick to the conventional art of story telling and makes sure his style for the first half is pacy and engrossing.
The dialogues are simple and clean. Especially in case of such a subject, one could expect a whole lot of long preachy sentences to be used but that’s where this shows you how different this movie is from others that you have probably seen. The movie is made up of small dialogues that establish a better connect with the audience in terms of emotions and the expressions. For instance, when Manjunath’s parents were being facilitated at IIM after his death, they were called on stage. Considering it’s a Bollywood movie, if you expected that they would then break into a long thought provoking speech and a series of monologues just to add weight to the scene, you’d be mistaken. All his dad says was a just a line about how he seeks help to fight his dead son’s case.
The actors did their job with complete flawlessness. Seema Biswas as Manjunath’s mother leaves you in a state of melancholy. She puts together a whole lot of emotional angles and serves them in the best suited format to the audience. She is so genuine with her acting and you start relating to her. What is surprising here is how the whole rawness that actor Sasho Sarathy who plays the character of Manjunath carries around him, is used to lend more credibility to the story. It is absolutely remarkable as to how he puts together every thing he has got to make you believe that he is Manjunath. If you have been a fan of Yashpal Sharma then this is his very best. The emotional phases after he kills Manjunath has been brought out really well.
This movie marks the first of many things. Apart from being Sandeep Varma’s and Sasho’s first, it is also the very first for the biggest Indian band Parikrama as music composers for a full fledged Bollywood movies. Despite the band is 23 year old now, this has been their first Bollywood release and what a job they have done. You won’t get to hear the full songs in the movie because much to an average movie-goer’s disappointment, there are no scenes involving dancing around the trees and all.
The background score and the songs have really been the strong point of the film and the way they have been used to enhance a certain scenes is interesting. The audio is typically Parikrama so be rest assured that this would be something you have never heard before. The only way they could have made it even more amazing is by getting the right singers and trust me, they did. ‘Meri Amma’ in Shankar Mahadevan’s voice will haunt your heart simply because of the beauty with which it puts forward the relation between Manjunath and his mother. ‘The Rock Song’ performed by KK has bypassed all his past works in this genre. Papon lends his voice for the song ‘Gol’ which will make you stay through the credits of the movie. Sandeep himself along with Rajneesh Bisth wrote lyrics for all songs except ‘Shlokas’ that have been taken from Bhagvad Gita.
Summing it up, the fact is quite inspiring in itself that this movie exists in todays time and that too in multiplexes while everything that sells is either because of explicit content or because of insanely huge amount of money at stake. Ofcourse there are flaws since nothing is perfect but for once its about focusing on the idea that a movie conveys. Kudos to the director Sandeep Varma for being the one to invest all his efforts in this kind of movie that makes you a better person somewhere deep within. While everyone else is focusing on their way to the banks, Sandeep with his movie is headed to your hearts for sure.