Manjhi does a Forrest Gump, could have been his best

Manjhi does a Forrest Gump, could have been his best
Manjhi — The Mountain Man
Hindu (U)
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ashraful Haq, Radhika Apte and Pankaj Tripathi
Director: Ketan Mehta
Rating: ****

Twenty-two years of extraordinary work for his love — which helped shorten a distance of 55 kilometres to 15 kilometres from Atri to Wazirganj near Gaya — is what Dashrath Manjhi, the poor villager, is famous for.

Inspired by the true story, director Ketan Mehta has carved out a biopic on the “the mountain man”.

Fabulous is an understatement for what Nawazuddin Siddiqui has done in this movie as Dashrath Manjhi. Having said that, he has also overacted in some scenes despite being already in the driver’s seat. Well, check minutely when Manjhi shoots rhetorical questions to the mountain and where he laughs with Faguniya (Radhika Apte) in an “incense-stick” comic scene.

Ordinary direction, a mismatch in costumes (especially the wayfarer with laal-peela dress) and average makeup of others somehow just can’t let the critic stay dormant when the breathtaking cinematography to out-of-the-box acting, rural dialect and body language, exquisite location/set to a fabulous and tight screenplay will sweep you off your feet.

It starts with an impression of being another Gangs of Wasseypur when a double whammy — of Tigmanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Tripathi — sweeps the audience but Mehta’s focus is more on Manjhi’s life.

Music, especially background score, is good but not rooted to Bihar, rather a modernised version with a modulated male voice used in “Faguniya”.

Magru (Ashraful Haq) does a commendable job minus his makeup (perhaps as the focus was on the lead) even when he is shown as the father of a grown-up Dashrath. Also, you would like journalist/narrator Alok Jha (Gaurav Dwivedi) but for them, who know the potentials of Prashant Narayanan, Jhumru’s cut-short role will leave you dissatisfied.

Although Mehta is no Anurag Kashyap, the movie is worth a watch minus the negligible negatives.

Ignore the overacting bit, and the remaining is a “saandaar, jabar‘j’ast, jindabad” Forrest Gump from Nawazuddin.

Radhika’s simplicity will floor you, the impact of unknown faces will leave you spellbound and above all, the fine blend of Maithili and Bhopuri dialogues, including “suar chor” and “purey pahar ko aag laga dis”, from the real rural Bihar is no less than an award-winning presentation.

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