When a film title quotes 'a film by Prakash Jha', it is inevitable that the film will have a plenty of food for thought. After delivering films like Damul, Mrityudand, Gangaajal, Apaharan and Raajneeti, there is definitely high expectations from Jha's upcoming Aarakshan. Like others Aarakshan also deals with a serious issue of caste-based reservation in the society. The film also goes on to talk about the commercialization of educational institutions.
Aarakshan portrays the torment that the youth goes through, who believe in equal rights, still continues to follow the caste-based society. Prakash through Aarakshan ventures to untouched themes of Indian Cinema, caste-based reservations in government jobs and educational institutions.
Aarakshan tells the story of Prabhakar Anand (Amitabh Bachchan), an idealistic principal of a college that has turned out to be state's best, solely through his efforts. It is the story of his loyal disciple, Deepak Kumar (Saif Ali Khan) who can do anything for him. Aarakshan speaks about Deepak's love for Prabhakar's daughter Poorbi (Deepika Padukone) and about his friendship with Sushant (Prateik). Aarakshan based on a controversial issue promises you a rollercoster ride full of high drama, conflict and rebellion. It shows the test of love, friendship and loyalty towards Prabhakar Anand.
Prakash Jha is one among those filmmakers who can even drive audience to watch a film based on practical social matters. Be it Raajneeti or Aarakshan, Jha has always delivered the harsh realities through his cinema. Aarakshan bang on hits to point that it wants to deliver, caste based politics, gender bias, commercialization of educational, etc. Though initially one will take time to comprehend what's going on, as the film has multiple characters being introduced and there are several plots running simultaneously, but things fall into places as the story proceeds.
The first hour of the film is impactful, while the second half comes across as a mixed bag. Handing two important societal issues in one film is not an easy job, Jha has brilliantly tackled the plot delivering an accurate Aarakshan. One relates to the subject of Aarakshan instantly as it is picked from the real life, every family is genuinely concerned about the education and job of their child.
The conflict between Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee in particular is shown brilliantly and leaves a a solid impression. An issue-based film rarely gets scope for music (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy), and Aarakshan was no different. However, Jha has weaved the songs smartly in the narrative of the film. Like any other Jha's film Aarakshan too has hard-hitting dialogue (Anjum Rajabali). Sachin Krishn's cinematography is top class.
Though the conflict between Amitabh and Manoj is well presented, the narrative tends to get lengthy and a tad uninteresting and repetitive towards the second hour of the film. The sequences when Amitabh, Deepika, Saif and even Prateik start conducting classes and educating the students, dilute the impact generated by the first hour. Even the part of the film when the government officials and commoners confront, though well executed, could've been more impactful. In short, the excessive length of the film will act is a loophole for the film.
The Principal's role was written after keeping Amitabh Bachchan in mind. In Aarakshan, the actor gives a completely new dimension to his character as a Principal. It requires great courage to cast Saif Ali Khan in the role, but he comes across brilliantly. The actor carries of his character outstandingly. His Shudh Hindi diction is perfect. Deepika Padukone also plays a challenging part, but his confident portrayal of the character comes clearly.
Manoj Bajpayee is remarkable in his negative character of a person who treats education as a business. Prateik needs to loosen up a little bit. Tanvi Azmi is first-rate. Mukesh Tiwari is top notch. Yashpal Sharma, Darshan Jariwala, Saurabh Shukla, Chetan Pandit, Vinay Apte are perfect. Anita Kanwar and S.M. Zaheer are alright. Hema Malini appears towards the end of the film.
On the whole, Aarakshan tells an engaging story with very characters taken directly from the real life. Though the film is convincing, but the running time to almost 2.45 hours may be irritating. Aarakshan works as a film that delivers a forceful message. Don't miss it!
Cast & Crew
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpayee, Deepika Padukone, Prateik Babbar
Director: Prakash Jha
Producer: Prakash Jha, Firoz A. Nadiadwala
Screenplay: Anjum Rajabali, Prakash Jha
Cinematography: Sachin Krishn
Editing: Santosh Mandal