Saturday, July 23, 2016


Uncommon Man

Our roads are potholed, flyovers and buildings topple over regularly, illegal buildings proliferate, there is corruption everywhere, and political movements against it have not yet succeeded; so the elementary vigilantism of Madaari is naïve and pointless; it’s not as if Nishikant Kamat is exposing something hidden or shocking.

Still, if the story had substance, the film might have been as effective, as, say, A Wednesday, which was also about the rage of the common man. Taking the core from that film and the road movie style of A Perfect World, Kamat comes up with a weak rant against venal politicians.

Nirmal Kumar (Irrfan Khan) loses his son in a bridge collapse and his world shatters. With his compensation cheque (in real life, he wouldn’t have got it without greasing some palms) he plans the kidnapping of the home minister’s (Tushar Dalvi) son, Rohan (Vishesh Bansal.)

All stops are pulled out for the investigations, led by the stony-faced Nachiket (Jimmy Sheirgill), but as Nirmal taunts them, he is hard to trace because he looks so common.

Rohan starts out by being a brat, but turns surprisingly docile and pliant, as he is made to change costumes and dragged all over North India by the kidnapper.  He has any number of chances to escape, but the kid explains his own feelings towards Nirmal as Stockholm Syndrome, and also sympathy for the man’s dead child.

Turns out, all Nirmal wants is a public admission of corruption by the people responsible for the bridge collapse, right from the engineers to politicians, including Rohan’s father, who has a monologue about the greed of the powerful, which could not be more hackneyed, and Nirmal’s response about the gullibility of the masses could not be more immature.

The film is well-intentioned and has some powerful scenes and a few pithy lines, plus an outstanding performance by Irrfan Khan, but as a ‘voice of the common citizen’ it does not quite work. The anti-politician vigilante does even see the irony in the huge outlay of public funds spent to track him.


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