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Manjhi The Mountain Man (U)

Audience Review

Release Date

21 Aug 2015
Critics Reviews Audience Reviews

Inspired by a true story, Manjhi - The Mountain Man is a stirring tale of an unsung hero, Dashrath Manjhi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), the man who single handedly cut a mountain to pave a path from his village Gehlore to the nearest town, Wazirganj near Gaya in Bihar.

It is a tale of romance and revenge, determination and grit, often compared to the Mughul Emperor Shah Jahan's love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. But unlike Shah Jahan, Dashrath was a mere casual labourer who was often scoffed at as 'pagla', an obstinate fool.

Overall, it is a treat to watch Manjhi - The Mountain Man. It is a great film. You empathise with him, but unfortunately you don't get emotionally involved. Probably the roots are too rural or there is something missing.

The best part about making a biopic is that the story - an extended version, at least - is already out there. The way it is adapted for a 2-hour long Bollywood film is where the real struggle lies. Director Ketan Mehta takes on the mountain-high project of depicting on film Dashrath Manjhi's life in Manjhi The Mountain Man. And he succeeds only in parts. Because in order to make a biographical film, the real hitch is filtering out the most interesting snippets from the person's life.

In all, Manjhi The Mountain Man deserves a watch to realise what a single 'lunatic' can be capable of when push comes to shove. And Nawazuddin's spellbinding acting. And, of course, if you're wondering if watching Manjhi would be difficult, here's quoting Dashrath from the film, "Pahar todne se mushkil hai kya (Is it tougher than breaking a mountain)?"

First of all, the movie is based on the true story of Dashrath Manjhi, also known as the “The Mountain Man. Manjhi is madly in love with his wife to be, but has to move away from the village for seven years to work in a coal mine in a town nearby. On returning, he finds out that his father-in-law to be wants his daughter to get married to a rich guy. Manjhi then decides to elope and marry Phalguniya and they start living happily.

One fateful day, when a pregnant Phalguniya is carrying food for Manjhi on a mountain, she slips and falls to her death, but the yet to be born child survives. That’s when Manjhi vents out his anger on the mountain by hammering at it. Also, while doing all this, he decides to carve a path through the mountain so that nobody else faces the same tragedy he did.

It also suggests that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.

Director and co-screenwriter Ketan Mehta brings the stranger-than-fiction true story of mountain man Dashrath Manjhi to the big screen with the aid of dollops of drama. This approach, which liberally draws upon the Bollywood narrative idiom in structuring a tale rooted in harsh reality, might make Manjhi - The Mountain Man more accessible to a wider audience.

The script over-compensates by injecting high drama into the proceedings. It highlights the many obstacles that Dashrath comes up against - deep-rooted caste oppression, personal tragedy, natural calamities, apathy and ridicule from his own people, corruption and subterfuge, and even a snakebite.

Manjhi - The Mountain Man pays a price for exactly the opposite - it errs on the side of excess. Its makers go overboard with the sturdy but rather stolid pieces available to them. A lighter touch might have made Manjhi - The Mountain Man a markedly more convincing biopic.

'Manjhi - The Mountain Man' is a real life story of Dashrath Manjhi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who lives in a small village near a huge rocky mountain. The villagers have to climb that mountain to reach the nearest town and one day Dashrath's wife Phaguniya (Radhika Apte), while trying to cross the mountain accidentally falls down and dies. Dashrath, in order to avenge his wife's death, decides to break the mountain and carve a road through it. How does Dashrath fulfill this impossible task is what this entire film is all about.

Dum??? Well, the masala film loving audience might shy away from this film, but as for others if you like realistic, motivational and good cinema then this movie is a must watch for you. The movie is as solid as a rock with various layers of emotion, creativity and fine performance attached to it.

'Manjhi - The Mountain Man' can fairly be divided into two distinct parts. The first revolves around the building up of romance between Manjhi [Nawazuddin Siddiqui] and Phaguniya [Radhika Apte] - which results into their marriage, two children and Phaguniya's demise. On the other hand, the second hour follows Manjhi's struggle to fulfill the pledge that he has made - to carve a path through the mountains. On a serious note, none of them works very well.

The film moves at a brisk pace throughout, but the moments towards the climax seem stretched to the point of exhaustion. However, towering performances by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte are this film's strength, but Ketan Mehta doesn’t quite harness the talent that he has got. What might have turned out to be one of the year's best films, is now a wasted opportunity.

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