Prakash Jha has given us movies like 'Mrityudand', 'Gangaajal' and 'Apaharan', which were bold enough to take on the issues of corruption and self-serving politicians. These movies made you sit up, outraged and wanting to be a part of the revolution to get rid of such politicians. For this we need to be grateful to Jha. But unfortunately the filmmaker seems to have lost his bite with 'Satyagraha', which simply turned out to be preachy and dreary and the least bit convincing.
Amitabh Bachchan plays Dwarka Anand, a principled ex-principal, who makes sure that his son (Indraneil) follows his path of righteousness. His son’s buddy, Manav Raghavendra (Devgn), a ruthlessly ambitious businessman is just the kind that Dwarka wants his son to avoid. But circumstances bring Dwarka and Manav together fighting for one cause. Helping them in the cause is Yasmeen Ahmed, an upright journalist (Kareena), Arjun, a local leader (Arjun Rampal) and Simi, Anand’s daughter-in-law (Amrita).
This group hopes to fight the corruption in the Ambikapur area and they are in direct combat with the collector of the area and the slimy politician Balram Singh (Bajpayee). The team decides to take up the non-violent method but soon the revolution goes out of their control.
An effort has been made to lend the subject a modern touch, as what seems like a forced attempt, with candlelight marches and outrage on Twitter. That’s all fine, but the weak screenplay, weaker dialogues and unconvincing plot end up making this film a bit of a mess. The conviction of the filmmaker also seems a bit dubious as even when the lead character of his film is lecturing against consumerism and “greed”, his daughter-in-law is busy selling a brand of atta (through in-film advertising) in the kitchen. Also, an out of the place item number adds to the woes.
Amitabh Bachchan lives and breathes the character, Dwarka Anand. In an excellent performance, Bachchan gives a whole new credibility to this otherwise not great product. What a pity. While Devgn plays himself in most of the movie, but shows what he can be capable of, in one moving scene where he bursts out crying when alone.
While Kareena dazzles as usual, it is her character sketch, which is the most faulty. In fact, many filmmakers evidently seem to have no idea how the media offices work and Kareena’s Yasmeen is miles away from that of a real-life journalist. Even when the whole of Ambikapur and at one point, the country gets involved in the Ambikapur revolution, Yasmeen seems to be the only journalist covering it and doing a bad job of it too. Amrita Rao deserves more roles.
More whimpering than a roar, this movie unfortunately induced yawns instead of any feeling of rebellion.