Indian society and politics revolves around caste and then came Mandal commission that made caste a deciding, definite factor in education too. Being a movie review, we are not going to touch on subject matter but unfortunately even the movie had failed to touch on the core issue of caste strongly. Prakash Jha has made an easy route to make a rather safe movie without getting too controversial, so at the end of the move you are left to wonder why some states banned this movie after all?!
Dr. Prabhakar Anand (Amitabh Bachchan) is a respected principal of a reputed college and a man of principles, committed to encouraging and helping aspiring and deserving students from all background to higher goals. After years of service, trouble starts brewing in his professional and personal life in the form of reservation. A point comes when he has to declare if he is for or against reservation. When the trustee board of the college ask him to backtrack his statement, he resigns. The new principal, Mithilesh Singh, enacted by mercurial Manoj Bajpayee also runs a full fledged commercial tutorial centers. He with a help of a politician, who is refused a college seat by Dr.Prabhakar schemes the principal’s downfall and almost corners him. The second half takes an almost a new story, with how Dr.Prabhakar bounces back with his principles intact and takes on the commercial tutorials and the evil, kingpin Mithilesh Singh by providing free tuition for all. Inbetween, we have Saif Ali Khan as Deepak Kumar, who under the guidance of Dr.Prabhakar becomes a university topper inspite of his caste background and goes on to date the principal’s daughter Deepika Padukone and his moments of confrontation with the principal and then change of heart.
So Aarakshan is a two story within. One superficially touching the reservation subject without deliberating much into it or giving a definite stance and another about the syndicate of commercial tuition centers. Though Prakahsh Jha would like us to think that the private tuition centers are the outcome of the reservation policies, in movie it stands almost like two different stories and some cinematic drama thrown in.
Amitabh bachchan stands tall as Dr.Prabhakar Anand and Manoj Bajpayee compliments him well subdued when he was vice-principal under Dr.Prabhakar and slowly towering his evilness in a cinematically dramatic way towards the climax. Saif Ali Khan’s character is not well etched and makes almost a secondary role. Unlike seen in Love Aaj Kal , Saif-Deepika pairing looks a mismatch in this movie. Prateek too has a limited role to play.
Aarakshan is nutshell is more about the trouble in the life of a righteous principled man who is passionate and devoted to the cause of education for all and how reservation policies tests his principles and character. In one scene, the wife of Dr.Prabhakar Anand tells her daughter, Deepika Padukone that he is “the real hero” and Aarakshan too is an Amitabh’s movie inspite of Saif Ali khan in it. It’s a good old Good Vs Evil, Hero vs Villain story told with Education and reservation backdrop.
GingerChai Verdict: Yes, the movie raises some points but then it is not strong enough, nevertheless Aarakshan is a watchable movie.