Manjhi: An exceptional portrayal of man versus nature’s injustice
It takes ages to find a plot that has the tendency to showcase different emotions, scenarios, and the journey of life i.e. transformation of one’s identity.
Manjhi: The Mountain Man is one such story that shares a tale of a man who believes in love, humanity, arrogance, friendship and doing what’s needed in his capacity as an individual to bring a change. It is based on the true story of Dashrath Manjhi, an unsung hero and legend who proved that nothing is impossible to achieve. The film is directed by Ketan Mehta and features Nawazuddin Siddiqui for the lead role of Manjhi. Manjhi has an able team to give what the audience of today’s world is in dire need of.
Let’s dissect the movie and find out how rock steady it actually is.
Manjhi was an ordinary man from Gehlaur, India, who left his hometown as a child solely because he never wanted to be a slave for Mukhia (Tigmanshu Dhulia), the landlord of the village.
At the age of 20, he returns to his hometown and meets his ‘child bride’ who he was married off to in his childhood, Phaguniya (Radhika Apte). Oblivious to the fact that they were married off as kids, he instantly falls in love with her. But when Phaguniya’s father opposed her relationship with Manjhi as he was jobless, they decide to elope. The movie takes a dramatic turn when Phaguniya accidently slips on the mountain and dies. To avenge his wife, he curses the mountain and vows to bring it down.
Siddiqui has already proved his mettle with almost every movie he has featured in but Manjhi is exceptional and can definitely be considered as one of Siddiqui’s most accomplished works. There is no match to the variety of emotions Siddiqui puts forward for his audience. His peculiar way of laughter after every unusual and weird metaphor is commendable. It’s safe to say that Manjhi is Siddiqui’s best performance till date. He truly deserves an award for this movie.
Apte is another underrated actress who showcases her acting prowess in her role of Phaguniya; Mehta has managed to utilise her skills to the fullest.
A sensuous mud sequence between Siddiqui and Apte is beautifully and aesthetically filmed, again thanks to Mehta.
Dhulia as Mukhiya puts forward a phenomenal performance as the oppressive landlord. He gives an earnest performance, though at times viewers might recall shades of his Gangs of Wasseypur character.
Ashraful Haq as Manjhi’s father is strictly okay. Prashant Narayanan who plays the role of Jhumru, the helpless husband and powerful Naxalite, is not only effective but dominant too.
It’s hard to make people realise that it’s not any less of a wonder to keep audiences interested in a movie throughout which only has two main characters, Manjhi (the protagonist) and the Mountain (villain of Manjhi’s life).
Manjhi starts with a high voltage and power-packed scene where Manjhi vents out his anger towards a mountain and challenges to turn the towering piece of rock into scrap – that’s not usual. Or is it?
Every other scene in Manjhi is praise worthy and leaves a long-lasting imprint in the minds of the audience. Indian cinema has not seen movies like Manjhi which have a solid narrative in a while. Along with it being a cinematic delight, it also puts forth the harsh truth of civil injustice. The movie shows no matter how mountainous injustice is, when there is a will there can be a way made.
Manjhi is a masterstroke and movies like these are not produced and showcased on regular basis. Manjhi offers its audience and true cinema aficionados everything they crave for – awesome direction, amazing cinematography, great screen play, fabulous acting and clap worthy dialogues.
I would rate Manjhi a solid five out of five without any second thought.
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