U/ A: Biography/drama
Director: Sandeep A Varma
Cast: Sasho Satyiish Saarthy, Asif Basra, Divya Dutta, Seema Biswas

The inspiring but terribly tragic story of Shanmugham Manjunath, who was shot dead in 2005, by the oil mafia in Bihar is now being replayed in theatres near you. Manjunath was eliminated as he had stumbled upon a huge adulterated diesel scam and no amount of bribing could have stopped him from exposing the mafia.

A still from 'Manjunath'

Manjunath, the film, fortunately doesn’t gloss over facts. Even at risk of sacrificing on the aesthetic front, director Sandeep A Varma tries to bring out the harsh reality of the story that led to the killing of this 27-year-old IIM graduate.

Sasho Satyiish Saarthy, who plays the role of Manjunath, is utterly believable as just a normal happy person who happens to have more guts and a better sense of righteousness and honesty than most of his peers. But Manjunath is interestingly as fallible and vulnerable as he seeks support of his close friends Sujata (Anjorie Alagh) and Gautam (Faisal Rashid) when the fear of the mafia and a sign of a mental disease take over once in a while.

The film begins with Manjunath going missing for two days only to be found by Sujata and brought back home. His parents (Seema Biswas and Kishor Kadam) are worried sick for his wellbeing and want him back in Karnataka with them. But Manjunath wants to go back to Bihar where he works as a sales officer to find out more truths about the mafia.

The first half moves pretty well and so does part of the second half. Till Manjunath is killed by his “friend”, a petrol pump owner Gullu Goel (Yashpal Sharma) as he manages to ruffle too many feathers. This scene, clearly the highlight of the film, is handled rather deftly by the director as he portrays the brutal murder in an absolutely believable, realistic manner.

But soon after the movie starts losing steam and it is stretched way too long, thus diluting the whole effect. By the time Divya Dutta, who plays an IIM graduate as well, enters the scene to help fight the case, the story is already stretched too far. The film boasts of a good ensemble cast, but a special mention has to be made of Seema Biswas as she gives a brilliant performance of a doting mother caught in a helpless situation.