Film: “Why Cheat India; Director: Soumik Sen; Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwanthary; Rating: ****(4 stars)
Relevant topical films frequently fall into the trap of overstatement. But here is where “Why Cheat India” scores high marks. It succeeds avoiding the imbalance between topicality and engagingness by simply letting the actors be.
The characters in this film exposing the scam of forged duplicate examinees don’t quite develop into the explosive entities they promise to. Their working class psyche shines in their disability to generate spectacular drama. Hearts are broken, young lives are destroyed, marriages fall apart, and ambition dissolve… But life goes on.
Director Soumik Sen sees life in trivia. In the way the characters speak of their unremarkable life, the film creates quite a remarkable litany of bustling boredom. Take for example the character of the protagonist Rakesh alias Rocky’s wife. She is so immersed in her life of mundane domesticity she never imagines there could be any other life than what she has.She gives him sex. But it’s clinical cold and uninviting. In one sequence in their bedroom Rocky suggests sex after a long hiatus. The wife doesn’t catch on at all and babbles on about the household activities. At the end when her husband is in jail she arrives with tiffins full of food and begins the serving the food to her husband and his associates as though it was part of an everyday routine.
“Why Cheat India” is not about Rocky’ wife. It’s about his hunger to create a “New” India with underprivileged and perhaps undeserving students being given a push by substitute candidates writing their examination papers. This life of shocking duplicity never elicits harsh censure in the film. The narrative’s tone suggests that our social order gets the kind of moral structure that it deserves.
The Rocky Bhaiyyas of Hindustan make full use of the Indian middleclass’ unfulfilled ambitions and dreams. Astonishingly Rocky sees no harm in scamming the Indian middleclass of its dreams and money.
This is a film about unfulfilled dreams and abducted yearnings, shot by cinematographer Y. Alphnose Roy about a brilliant student called Sattoo(impressive newcomer Singhadeep Chatterjee) whose career is destroyed by Rocky’s patronage. I felt the bonding between the student and his mentor was not played out closely enough. We never feel Satoo’s disappointment. The growing relationship between Rocky and Sattoo’s sister (outstanding discovery Shreya Dhanwanthary) gets far more space to breathe.
By the end of the film Raja Bhaiyya loses all his hard-earned fame and money. As we stare into the void of his life there emerges from the mound of immorality a kind of hope.