An epic subject, a heavy star-cast and a proven director!
Yes, these are good enough reasons to draw initial crowds to cinema theatres but to sustain or leave a mark, the complete package has to stand-out. Unfortunately, one of the most awaited films this year is not here to stay. Satyagraha is an average movie, far below our expectations & arguably one of Prakash Jha's worst made presentations.
A tight slap on the District Magistrate's face by a common man boils into a nation wide agitation. But the manner it unfolds is unconvincing & at times, even the flow of scenes doesn't look natural or realistic. To make things worse, Salim-Sulaiman's poor background score too adds to the lack of audience connection. Satyagraha is powerful in bits & pieces but irregular & weak as a whole. To me, it seemed that far more than a logical narrative, the director tries to create high-drama screen shots for its posters.
The first half is a story of a retired school principal fighting against corruption to get his son's compensation, who died on duty. But, it takes a different turn after interval and metamorphoses into a vivid copy-paste of Anna's andolan. This is where the film loses steam becoming no more than a commentary of Anna-Arvind saga, that too in a haphazard manner. The Aam Aadmi Party has requested people to watch Satyagraha, understandably for its depiction of Ajay Devgan's character, inspired by Kejriwal.
With the class of actors present, the acting had had to be Good. Arjun Rampal & Amrita Rao were the only ones who seemed out of place in their respective roles of local bahubali & a widowed housewife. Manoj Bajpai brings the much needed comic relief and as always does complete justice to the corrupt minister's character playing his role to perfection. The best part of Satyagraha is the relationship shown between Maanav (Ajay Devgan) & his friend's idealist father played by Amitabh Bachchan. Diagonally opposite ideologically, the Devgan-BigB duo has surely been able to draw some viewer's emotions through their on-screen relationship. In fact, I did find audiences wetting their tissue papers in delight!
Satyagraha is a classic example how a lack of good direction cannot be complimented by any amount of super star-cast. Being obsessed with politics is not bad but we expect the director to infuse some freshness in a new subject which he terribly fails to do. In fact, its a khichdee of Gangajal, Aarakshan & Rajneeti and sadly, even a brand new subject like the anti-corruption movement somehow lacks originality.
Far more than anything, Satyagraha is an unhappy reflection of a talented director's complacency. Its high time Prakash Jha reinvents himself lest he gets stereotyped for the lack of a fresh approach & originality. Although a well-intentioned motive, but Satyagraha would be rated 2.5 out of 5 for poor direction & a confused plot!