Movie Review: APAHARAN (2005)
I’m back with another blast from the past. (I wonder how many cliche’d phrases I can keep using to describe my old articles… keep tuning in and you’ll see!) Wrote this one in 2005… the year my writing really flourished, and also happened to be the year right before the Indian Film Industry was pulled out of its slump in 2006… coincidence??
Rating: 2 Out Of 5 Stars
Ah, these journalists, who says they can’t make great movies? Well I can’t recall, but I’m sure someone did. To me it seems that journalists end up making the hardest hitting films of our times. Practically informing, but at times tragically realistic are the stories and kinds of films that these journalists have in their films. One such journalist turned film maker is Prakash Jha. After the realistic and critically acclaimed GANGAJAAL, now comes the painfully realistic, APAHARAN.
Teaming up once more with all the supporting cast from GANGAJAAL, Prakash Jha comes back with the commercially successful and also critically acclaimed APAHARAN. Based on the industry of kidnapping in the state of Bihar in India, the story is a lot more universal in portraying the reality of beauracatic and political corruption within India. The reality in his films is what puts Prakash Jha among the same league of filmmakers such as Manish Jha, Mahesh Manjrekar, Rajkumar Santoshi, Sanjay Gupta and even the mighty Ram Gopal Varma himself.
The compelling but somewhat paced screenplay was the fact that the story wasn’t based on any one character. There can’t be any one main lead in APAHARAN, as every character had a well rounded part in the film. Everyone from the headliners Ajay Devgan and Nana Patekar to the supporting cast of Mohan Agashe, Yashpal Sharma, Chetan Pandit and Eshan Khan did an amazing job, and there the development of their characters even more astounding. The one thing that stands out in al of APAHARAN is the fact that it is not an Ajay Devgan or Bipasha Basu film, not even a Nana Patekar film, despite their break out performances.
Having an incredibly long list of duds through out 2005, Ajay Devgan comes back with one film that stormed the box office not to mention the critics’ choices in almost all the upcoming awards shows. With a performance that overshadows anything else he’s done in recent years, Ajju shows us just how far he’s come in his years as an actor in the Indian Film Industry. After the critically successful GANGAJAAL with the same director, Ajay stands out in this performance of the son of a man greatly known in society for his morals and beliefs as he fights against injustice in any form. As Ajay Shastri, Devgan’s character has to live up to his father’s high ideals and struggle through society with his middle class college education, without any help from his father. This causes some resentment from the attention starved son who doesn’t quite understand his father’s insistence that he make it on his own, and eventually causes a rift in the father-son relationship. The relationship between a morally good father and his young and naïve son is stressed through out a film of political corruption and criminal ambition. Ajay Devgan’s performance of a reluctant youth who is forced to a life of crime where his ambition and drive offer him more opportunities than living an honest life, which he has been struggling to do so because of the corruption within the economy, is extraordinary. Ajay is in top form in APAHARAN with a subtle performance that never goes over the top, and walks that fine line between emotional yet stoic.
Keeping him company, and also, it seems to add a touch of femininity in the film is Bipasha Basu as Ajay’s love interest. The love angle is downplayed quite a lot in this film and is not much of an issue except as a reminder of things that the young Ajay Shastri sacrificed by foregoing living an honest life. Despite her beauty and sex appeal, Bips is toned down quite a lot in this film. Sporting an almost de glamorized look Bips doesn’t really do much in the film, but provide the relationship quotient which could have been satisfactorily done by any other skill full actress. Bipasha’s talent and name just seemed to have been exploited to add another a-list name to the film. But being an experimental genre, the idea paid off, as Bipasha’s involvement in APAHARAN might be worth acknowledging compared to a few of her other films.
On the other spectrum of Devgan’s Ajay Shastri is the veteran actor, Nana Patekar’s Tabrez Alam. After a hiatus of a while, his last films being the commercial hit BHOOT and the critically successful AB TAK CHAPPAN and more recently the overseas hit BLUFFMASTER, Nana is back in the type of roles in which he excels the ones that are so brutally negative. This time Nana is a highly over ambitious criminal with aspirations of holding political office. A highly calculating and shrewd person, Tabrez Alam recruits the impressionable Ajay Shastri to further his career, and for Shastri, Tabrez almost becomes the father that never supported him. The relationship dynamics play out quite well within this film, and Jha handles them almost seamlessly. Under the veil of politics, crime, and the underworld’s influential in India’s society, the father-son factor is very impactful. It’s a kind of sub plot that is apparent not just in the highly immoral political world, but also very relevant to the youth who are forced to follow in their parents’ footsteps despite their own dreams and ambitions. Nana’s performance as the cunning political candidate while also being a highly covert underworld don is riveting to say the least. In fact, just recently this role has won him the “Best Actor in a Negative Role” at the Filmfare and Zee Cine Awards this year.
APAHARAN worked well, because of the screenplay, and its content. The amazing way the reality in India is portrayed is mind blowing. It’s the VASTAAV for the middle class society. APAHARAN shows that even a college education and great integrity means nothing in a country run by networking and money. The number of lives ruined by this concept is exactly what causes India, and countries like India to be the number one region for outsourcing by corporations from other parts of the world. The film is really slow paced at times, and might have benefited with sum editing, or scissoring, but all in all, it’s an incredibly realistic look at the way society functions within India. Prakash Jha and his amazing ability to do realistic films cause him to carve out a niche all for himself in the commercial cinemas and today’s multiplex era.