A writer has its playground where he can stir his story the way he wants. But biographic stories are perhaps exception to this glorious rule. There is a very little room to play with the biographic stories or characters as the authenticity of the work is under scrutiny and subjectivity has very little scope – you see what has happened in past which can’t be right or wrong.
The film is handled with brisk pace in the first hour and it grabs your attention far too easily. You also enjoy the notorious side of the protagonist and some bits of love story. Although the romance isn’t particularly hooking after a point and the songs added to the romance only add to the length. Yet, there are couple of twists in first half that keeps the screenplay tight.
But writers of “Manjhi” spoil the basic premise for more than once. The film tries its hand by seeking substance in too many sub plots like child marriage, naxalites, gender discrimination, poverty, political injustice and a inconsistent love story. Sure, the above mentioned plots are interlinked to the film’s protagonist but the film revolves around these plots for too much of its screen-time. Playing with the flashback gimmick, the film does have a mountain-breaking sequence every few minutes just too remind you what this film is really about. The film loses its steam immensely in second half and the narration starts falling apart and scenes start getting repetitive. To be fair, the film comes into its own in last 15 minutes.
Manjhi feels like cinematic adaptation of Wikipedia information which is sad especially because there is so much more to the man himself than some random details. A fair comparison would be that meticulously written and executed Tigmanshu Dhulia film “Paan Singh Tomar” which not just gave insights but also kept the interest alive in the story.
Nawaazuddin plays his part with honesty but there is very little distinctiveness to his performance perhaps because you have seen him doing roles in similar category. “Manjhi” reminds you of Kashyap’s enjoyable series “Gangs of Wasseypur” for putting actors like Tigmanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Tripathi in characters which feels rehashed of the ones they played in Kashyap’s film. Radhika Apte in a brief role is decent but her capability remains unexploited.
In the end, “Manjhi” is a disappointing biography on an iconic persona. Though the film is bearable and also engaging in bits and spurts, but that’s not saying much especially with that crackling premise and the amount of scope the film had.
Rating – 2/5Tags: Ketan Mehta Manjhi Member Reviews Nawazuddin Siddiqui Radhika Apte Reviews