Whenever there is a movie from Mr. Jha, Bollywood centered media come out craving for a great movie, as if a very genuine director is making a film with a great theme and message. For me, I liked his Gangaajal as a good entertainer, which was different from typical Bollywood movies. Bollywood normally does not want its viewers to think. Prkash Jha gives something to ponder about in his movies, though it has never been great. However, this time he has taken a theme, Reservation for backward castes in Governmental higher educational system and jobs, some theme, the mention of which even can lead to heated discussions and even petty fights and sometimes even riots. I have to say, he is really bold to base his new movie around reservation and through his protagonist, air some views which is definitely not going to please the upper castes and the great Indian middle class. No wonder that the theatre was almost empty.
Professor Prabhakar Anand is the principal of an ideal philosophy of education and of such an institution. He does not care for caste or family background to encourage a needy student. But as he too is surrounded by those who run the education mafia, he has to get out of the institution and run his own system.
Mr. Jha is quite a bold person in the first half of this movie, when there is this strong battle between the view points of two groups, one group against reservations and the other for the reservations. And this half definitely is the better half, inspite of having two unnecessary songs taking their time within the first 15 or 20 minutes. But in the second half, it takes a different turn and the politics behind the reservation is almost like lost and it turns out more like the battle of sustenance between two individuals who took two sides in the first half. And it is this second half, which made Aarakshan look pretty ordinary. In the first half, we see a director who is bold enough to take a hot theme and clearly takes a stance through his protagonist. So the first half is commendable, as it airs many questions and should make us think. But the same director chooses a path in the second half, which we have seen in so many movies from across India, in which the good finds some ways, mostly quite easy, to get over the bad. At the end it all looks pretty ordinary.
For once, here is a Bollywood movie which happens almost in some North Indian town. But still, there is a scene which happens somewhere in America. America seems to be such an integral part of every thing in India now, at least for Bollywood. And for the first time, I think, Saif Ali Khan comes out looking like a pretty ordinary man and tries to convince in that role. He is not excellent but still it is a good performance from him as he has tried his best to not go over board. And then there is Mr. Bachhan. But I doubt, with the kind of talent he has, if he really had to put in a big effort for this role at all.
Finally, a different effort which decided to end up normal. Still congratulations to Mr. Jha to raise some serious questions in the first half. But he should have known that, his pertinent questions must be quite irritating for the majority of that class who are biggest promoters of Bollywood. At least if the upper castes, who also form the chunk of the Indian middle class, if they would even care to think about the issues arised in the first half, Mr. Jha must be a happy man. But I doubt so. For, Indians only like to point fingers at other nations when there are racism issues in the west. Their own mirror never reflects them. Or they dont like to see what they are and the result show in the theatres.