PJ Prakash Jha

Satyagrah movie

Bollywood director Prakash Jha’s films have generally done well in the past, so much so that he’s one of the very few identified men behind the camera. His production house also slogans around the concept of ‘Cinema with Power’, and why not when his works portray the real on reel.

However, all his award winning plots and narratives seem to have gone haywire while filming ‘Satyagraha’ which had raised the walls of hopes with trailers promising to stir the conscience of the audience who’ve still not forgotten country-wide agitations against seething corruption and failure of justice delivery system.

At a time when Jha appeared set to collaborate with international filmmakers to present to global audiences fascinating stories, his ‘Satyagraha’ squarely fails to stir the souls gasping to breathe deep amid suffocating politics all around.

Though a multiple award-winning independent filmmaker producing and directing 17 feature films including ‘Gangajal’, ‘Mrityudand’ and ‘Damul’ and having notched eight national awards, Jha has this time himself corrupted the meaning and value of ‘Satyagraha’, much practised and popularised by none other Mahatma Gandhi during India’s freedom struggle.

When the country is brewing with ideas, bubbling youth are questioning everything come whatever despite the elders crying hoarse against the system, it was expected that ‘Satyagraha’ would guide the nation with a message that remains undelivered even by the likes of some great campaigners including Anna Hazare.

Don’t we live in a country where the majority walks miles to eat while the ruling handful run on treadmills to burn extra calories? Aren’t we witness to a total collapse of moral values in our society and indifference of the elite towards the working class? Isn’t a common man today disillusioned by all organs of government be it Executive, Legislature or Judiciary?

A ‘satyagraha’ undoubtedly is a powerful weapon but hasn’t Prakash Jha made a mockery of the stick public could have well beaten the system with? It was a sad day when activist Arvind Kejriwal turned a politician in his attempts to cleanse the system. And similarly, ‘Satyagraha’ is a bad movie that fails to restore the confidence of the audience in the non-violent ways we have always expressed our anger, since time immemorial.

Country’s raring youth is demanding a road map for success and amendment in fractured laws, but what they end up getting is ‘gyan’ i.e. undeserving advice. ‘Satyagraha’ movie exactly does that.

The remaining nails in the coffin are hammered by (i) Amitabh Bachchan who wears woolen shawl throughout the summers; (ii) Kareena Kapoor who reads a novel in dark; (iii) Vipin Sharma who sings for the government despite being in the opposition; (iv) Ajay Devgn who is convincingly confused with his role and (v) Arjun Rampal who is aimlessly squandering on the celluloid.

Music too is a pain to ears save one number, ‘Ras ke bhare tore naina’; but then the background score including the song overdose in the form of otherwise magical mantra ‘Raghupati raghav raja ram’ is irritating. Every action, what to talk of ‘direct action’, is a baggage on a popcorn eating movie goer.

Finally, socio-political thinker Sudheendra Kulkarni has this message for Jha: “[I’m] Disappointed [to watch Satyagraha]. So badly made. Fails to capture Mahatma Gandhi’s profound philosophy. Fails also as a film on recent events.  With a good script a good director can produce a masterpiece, as Akira Kurosawa wrote in his autobiography. [But] Satyagraha [is] ruined by [a] bad script.”

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Greater Voice seeks to read and report India-specific human rights stories.