Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Manoj Bajpayee, Amrita Rao
Director: Prakash Jha
Prakash Jha’s “Satyagraha” bears no thematic relation to any of his earlier political dramas. It is certainly not a sequel to his “Raajneeti”, as has been reported in some sections of the media. And yes, it is most certainly based on the movement that Anna Hazare started against corruption. To say that Mr. Bachchan’s character Dwarka Anand in “Satyagraha”, lovingly called Dadujee by one and all, and Dadujee’s turbulent relationship with the go-getting NRI-turned-Gandhian-nationalist Maanav Raghvendra(Devgn) does not bear a resemblance to the Anna Hazare-Arvind Kejriwal equation, would be plain blindness.
What Jha and his very able astute and politically informed co-writer and long-time collaborator Anjum Rajabali have done, is to collect together the thematic threads of Anna Hazare’s mass anti-corruption movement and weave it into a gripping, thoughtful, hard-hitting and inspirational drama which contains all the resonances of a newspaper headline, and wrap it up in the semantics of cinema with as little creative violence as possible even while addressing an inherently violent issue.
From the time Jha made his intensely political drama “Damul”, there has been a constant strife between the director’s personal political ideology and its rendition into cinematically interpreted language. Drama and emotions have always been Jha’s bete noire. In his predominantly brutal domain of interpersonal politics, the human drama is played out austerely, often at the cost of squandering away the chance to draw the characters’ innerscape in an elaborately-charted scheme .
In Jha’s “Aarakshan”, we had seen that trademark emotional austerity in the way he portrayed Mr. Bachchan’s relationship with his screen-daughter Deepika Padukone. In “Satyagraha”, one feels the relationship between Mr. Bachchan’s character and his widowed daughter-in-law (Amrita Rao) could have gone a little further. But then Mr. Bachchan is the kind of extraordinary actor who can say so much about his character’s emotional environment in the most meagre playing-time. Here, he has that one moment with Amrita Rao when hearing her sob in the dead of the night, he goes into her room to console her… And we know the kind of deep bonding this powerful patriarch shares with his cruelly widowed Bahu.