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Movie Review: 'The Light: Swami Vivekananda'

The first unwritten rule of a biopic is to cast someone who resembles the subject. Something this film scores high on as the protagonist bears an uncanny resemblance to the legendary philosopher he portrays. Apart from that, everything else is an utter downhill. The purpose might have been earnest but that alone seldom helped create a reasonably good movie. Other than being churlish and stereotypical, the biopic also falls victim to a directionless script, bizarre acting and ridiculous art direction.

'The Light: Swami Vivekananda' review
'The Light: Swami Vivekananda' 

Although it’s a shame it took so long to build a film on a figure, who could be rightly called the global Indian ahead of anybody else, the wait hasn’t really proved fulfilling. This particular effort by Utpal Sinha comes across as too superfluous to leave an impact. If the idea was to showcase Swami Vivekananda in flesh and blood, there should have been more elements of conflict — and how he overcame them. In this version, his switch from a saffron-wearing monk to an ackhan-clad globetrotter is too swift to believe. His memorable encounters with historical figures ranging from Jamsetji Tata to John Rockefeller to Lokmanya Tilak to Sister Nivedita could have been cinematic, at least.

Besides, how far can a mediocre piece of writing push forward a project? Especially when it looks like an unaccredited adaptation of Amar Chitra Katha. From the very first scene, the slow pace is set. To matters worse, there’s no art to support the tardiness either. Even the dialogues are delivered with fixed intervals as if the actors are all rebels with a pause. The fact remains that there’s no evidence of people talking slowly during the British era the film is set in.

Only the devotional songs — basically ruined by onscreen extras with their unconvincing countenance — fit in perfectly well with the flow. 

Needless to point out, the film was supposed to follow the celebrated Hindu monk on his quest for enlightenment. However, very little focus is shed on how he transforms from an elite skeptic to a universal saint. His association with his guru Ramakrishna is reduced to some cheap display of cosmic CGI making you wonder “Really? What were they thinking?” before you can’t wait for the movie to end.

All the actors — except Piyali Mitra — ham like there’s no tomorrow. 

Lastly, this film could have been far better as an all-praising documentary. A tribute doesn’t necessarily mean that one can toy with the idea of making a film without getting the basics right. 

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