Movie Review: Satyagraha (2013)

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Wednesday, 25th September 2013

Satyagraha is an interesting film. Don't miss it.

It is a story that reflects on the corruption in Indian politics and the growing resentment against it.


Ajay Devgan is already natural on camera, and it's just as pointless to discuss our man Manoj Bajpaee, who plays the bad guy so good that you feel like punching him in the face every time he shows up. The guy is beyond debate.

So I have very little else to say about these two actors. I enjoy their performances.

In this movie, Mr. Bachchan plays a self-righteous, obstinate, middle-class prude who carps at anything that smacks of ambition, capitalism and industry.

It troubles me to see the great amount of effort he continues to put in into his performances. Have you ever felt so concerned that it almost hurt you watching someone work so hard and you wanted them to take it easy?

When a kid, I was a Michael Jackson fool and I felt tired for him when I saw him sweat it out on the stage. In this movie, I felt the same watching Mr. Bachchan. It reminded me how seriously he takes his work even now.

But these actors need no endorsement.

What I really found refreshing was Arjun Rampal's performance. Praise has been long overdue, and I can't be generous enough.

Arjun's performances have been severely criticized in the past, sometimes even tarring his good ones with the bad brush. Unfair, I say. Admit it, folks. Arjun Rampal shines in his role in this movie.

Fellows, acting is tough. It is tough until it becomes easy.

The fact that you have to do it before a crowd of strangers staring you, hard-hitting lights glaring into your face, and you have to do it in a situation where concentration seems impossible to achieve, and you have to do it carefully side-stepping wires, dolly tracks and the kitchen sink laid out on floor, and you have to remember your marks, and your lines, and still be yourself -- all of these facts are daunting but not nearly as the one single most thing that gnaws into every actor's confidence.

And that is, "Am I ugly? Do I look okay?"

Acting is the best when you stop acting. And it takes a while to get there. It's difficult to stop acting when the camera is on. One of the first impulses an actors has chewing him away inside is, "How do I look?" And the camera captures it all. And you want to hide that. And the camera captures that effort, too.

You see that with almost all the newbies, in India at least, and some of them carry it in their eyes for the rest of their working careers. Some very experienced actors have it worn on their face, too. No actor can escape it. Everyone has to go through it, no matter how good they eventually become later. Some have taken it with them to their graves.

Good acting is about facing that fear and crushing it. Acting is about being bold, brazen, shameless with your fear. It's about being naked, emotionally, in front of who-cares-whom.

And in this performance, I felt that Arjun Rampal had hit the mark. He's getting more and more natural with each performance. When I see him now, I see a bucolic, young lad with ambition and sincerity. Arjun, you have a great career ahead of you and my wishes go out for your long-deserved success.

Movie-making is tough game. Sure, Satyagraha is a formula film -- good guys be, bad guys be, good guys win, the world is rid of sin -- and there is melodrama, and there is some hamming, and a few things do appear outlandish, and it is an effort to stirr you up emotionally. But you'll discount those. Because it works. I cried watching the movie. If poverty, hunger, misery and political apathy to human suffering doesn't bring you to tears, what will, my friend -- what will? Satyagraha talks. Go listen.

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