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Manjhi The Mountain Man Movie Review

Manjhi The Mountain Man Movie Rating

Amongst all the popular genres in Bollywood, the one genre which is fast gaining popularity is that of biopics. The recent times have seen the silver screen mirroring the biopics of many distinguished and iconic personalities. Be it PAAN SINGH TOMAR, THE DIRTY PICTURE, RANG RASIYA, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG, MARY KOM, Bollywood audiences are opening up to such real life stories. This week's release MANJHI - THE MOUNTAIN MAN, is a biopic of the late Dashrath Maanjhi, who is popularly known as the 'Mountain Man'. Will it reflect at the box-office as a winner or will it find its survival in the box-office as an uphill task, let's analyze.

The story starts off with a 'conversation' between Dashrath Maanjhi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and a humongous mountain, in which he cries his heart out before the mountain with all the aggression. The 'heat' of his conversation is so much that it (quite literally) sparks off a fire! The story then gets into a flashback mode wherein it shows all the events that lead him to the present day situation. The flashback shows Dashrath, who hails from a totally backward class, getting married to Phaguniya (Radhika Apte) during childhood itself. Because of his father's inability to pay the debts, he plans to leave Dashrath with the village's merciless Mukhiya (Tigmanshu Dhulia) as his domestic help. But the self-respecting Dashrath bites off his father's hand and runs away from the village itself... only to return after a gap of seven long years. While he sees that things haven't changed much in the village in terms of progress, his love life blooms the very moment he sets his eyes on Phaguniya. His joy knows no end when he discovers that Phaguniya is no one else but the same girl whom he got married to in his childhood. After all the drama that takes place because of his unemployment, Dashrath and Phaguniya run away from the 'clutches' of their parents, only to live a peaceful life forever. Dashrath loves her so much that his life becomes impossible without her. After the delivery of their first child, Phaguniya conceives for the second time. The dutiful wife that she is, she climbs the hilly mountains to bring lunch for Dashrath, who works incessantly in order to give his family a happy life. One day, pregnant Phaguniya, while climbing the hills, slips from there and passes away after delivering her second child. Unable to bear the grief of the sudden death of her wife, Dashrath feels that the hilly 'egoistic' mountains are the killers. In order to teach these mountains a lesson that they will never forget, he starts cutting them with an axe ... all single handedly, totally devoid of the people's reactions and perceptions towards him. Does he succeed in taking his wife's death's revenge from the mountains, does he have a change of heart, and does the government or anyone else help in his 'uphill task' endeavour is what forms the rest of the film.

The veteran film maker Ketan Mehta makes a comeback as a director and a screenplay writer (alongwith Mahendra Jhakar) with MANJHI - THE MOUNTAIN MAN. He needs to be applauded for translating a real life story into a film with utmost ease and conviction is his characters. Even though the film starts looking like a docudrama at certain places, the film's screenplay and the leading characters' flawless performances raises the film's standards superlatively. Full marks to Ketan Mehta for having shown such confidence in Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte that it starts showing in their enchanting and endearing performances every time they come on screen.

In the process of ensuring that film's plot establishes itself in the first half, Ketan Mehta leaves no stone unturned while narrating the film's engaging second half, despite the fact that the film becomes a constant reminder about the Hollywood flick 127 HOURS a la Bihar style.

As for the performances, Nawazuddin Siddiqui comes a clean winner in the title role of Dashrath Maanjhi. The level of his performance in the film is so superlatively high, that you just cannot imagine any other actor performing this role with the kind of conviction, confidence and effortlessness that he exhibits in the film. One just cannot afford to miss the scenes wherein he and Radhika Apte emerge out of the mud, him cutting his toe after snakebite, his filling his hunger and thirst by licking the moss and eating leaves. All in all, his performance in the film is what one would call as 'shaandaar, jabbardast, zindaabaad'. Radhika Apte, on the other hand, offers able support to Nawazuddin Siddiqui as his ever-dutiful, loving, caring, understanding and inspiring wife. All of this, without being at the risk of going overboard. The onscreen chemistry that she exudes with Nawazuddin Siddiqui is something that needs to be seen in order to be believed. The rest of the film's characters in the form of Tigmanshu Dhulia, Pankaj Tripathi, Gaurav Dwiwedi and others, offer their support in taking the film to its well deserving climax. A special mention to Deepa Sahi (in a cameo) who does a near-to-being-perfect role of the late leader Indira Gandhi.

Despite the fact that the film does not boast of having any chartbusting music, the music (Sandesh Sandaliya) is very situational and does not look out of place. Even though the film's editing (Pratik Chitalia) could have been a bit tighter, it is the film's cinematography (Rajeev Jain) and the Art department (Nitin Chandrakant Desai) that takes the cake.

On the whole, MANJHI - THE MOUNTAIN MAN is a good film but will appeal mainly to Nawazuddin's fans. However, the film has potential to grow with word of mouth.

Manjhi The Mountain Man 2.5 Bollywood Hungama News Network 20150821

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