Movie Review: 'Aarakshan' - First Half Appeals, No 'Aakarshan' in Second
Daijiworld Media Network – Entertainment
Rating – 3/5
Mangalore, Aug 12: Prakash Jha’s much debated movie ‘Aarakshan’ is for the somber movie lovers as it is based on the serious issue of Indian reservation policies in educational institutions.
The movie does offer something to ponder over and boldly attempts to focus on the difficulties faced by deserving students because of the prevailing reservation policies in India. At least the first half of the movie revolves around this and presents it exceptionally well but does it maintain the spirit till the end?
Starring superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpayee and Prateik Babbar the movie’s casting team needs to be commended. The actors manage to maintain the natural flavor in their given roles and I would give full marks to the leading man Big B who as always is incredible. Saif and Deepika too do justice to their roles. Manjoj Bajpayee in a negative role is also no less in putting up a good performance and truly reminds us of the money-minded and callous people enjoying high positions in institutions.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music is not so impressive this time. Except the first song ‘Achha lagta hai’, rest of the songs are just mediocre. The song ‘Mauka’ in between does not go well with the flow and is kind of unnecessary.
Prabhakar Anand (Amitabh Bachchan), a man with strong ethics is the principal of Shakuntala Thakral Mahavidyalaya (STM), reputable college in Bhopal. He is a sincere and dedicated man and helps his students in all possible ways to get into good colleges for their higher studies and attain great heights. He even offers free coaching classes for lesser privileged children who need assistance with their studies.
Deepak Kumar (Saif Ali Khan), a bright student from STM belongs to the Dalit community and he is in love with Poorvi (Deepika Padukone), who is Prabhakar Anand's daughter.
Suddenly the Supreme Court’s verdict of raising the reservations of backward classes from 27% to 49% in colleges creates chaos and tension among students as the deserving candidates too miss the opportunity to get into the college of their choice. The students belonging to SC/ST/OBC are happy about the seats reserved for them but there comes strong opposition from students of general category and a lot of argument arises in connection with caste in the college campus.
Prabhakar, every year used to provide few seats to students from poor background and whom he thought had the ability to study. After the matter of Aarakshan (reservation) comes up even his way of taking in students were questioned and at last he was forced to resign from his post after he makes a controversial statement about India's reservation policy. Having estranged himself from his associates and students, including his much loved student Deepak Kumar, he tries to rebuild life again.
He mainly shows through his work of providing free coaching to huge number of people that education is not a business but service. Finally he gets support from all his friends and well wishers and gets back to college with the new role through the help of its founder who makes her appearance at the end of the movie– Shakuntala(Hema Malini).
It is indeed a brave task to choose the most controversial policy of caste-based reservations in government jobs and educational institutions which Jha has done through his socio-political drama 'Aarakshan'. After exploring the dark underbelly of the political world in Rajneeti he returns with yet another realistic film.
Although the film deals with a sensitive issue, Jha doesn't provide a permanent solution for it. Set in the backdrop of Bhopal, 'Aarakshan' focuses on a burning issue and carries it so well in the first half. But alas! It looks like the chief concept was forgotten after that. Then it’s all about a single man’s fight to prove himself and stick on to his values which wins him the lost image and grade. But something to be noticed is that even though the reservation issue is forgotten, there’s something which is reflected later - the way it mocks the growing number of private coaching centers which are luring lots of students these days and making good money.
The movie also has some good dialogues, most of them delivered by Prabhakar.
The movie has a good message to offer and great performances especially by the Big Man Amitabh Bachchan. The script which would have certainly been made keeping in mind the issue of Aarakshan shifts from the main theme of the movie. This is very evident and would not be missed by anyone watching the movie, something for the audience to point out at Jha.
But all in all, the message delivered by the movie needs to be credited, be it the Indian reservation policy or on the commercialization of education. For the message, boldness in choosing the theme and mitigating performances I would go with 3 stars.