Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpayee, Prateik Babbar
Direction: Prakash Jha
Duration: 2 hours 47 minutes
Jamia Journal Rating: **** (4/5)
Aarakshan, or reservation, is just not about what the title suggests. It deals with the caste-based reservation in society and talks about the commercialization of educational institutions as well. It showcases a tussle between the OBCs and the general category.
Set in Bhopal the main plot revolves around Prabhakar Anand, played by Amitabh Bachchan, an idealistic principal of a private college that has turned out to be the country’s best institute, solely through his efforts.
Aarakshan is the story of Deepak Kumar, played by Saif Ali Khan who plays a brilliant Dalit graduate in the same college and will do anything for his “Sir.” It is also a story of his love for Prabhakar’s daughter Poorbi, played by Deepika Padukone, and of his friendship with Sushant, played by Prateik Babbar.
The story begins with Sushant wanting to pursue a course in Mass Communication at Jamia Millia Islamia but can not manage to get a seat due to University’s reservation policy, where more than 50 per cent seats are already reserved for some category. This creates a negative impact on him and out of frustration he accuses Prabhakar Anand for being a pro-reservationists, and holds him responsible for messing with the careers of meritorious students.
Prabhakar comes in conflict with the corrupt, insincere, vice-principal, played by Manoj Bajpayee, who chooses to concentrate more on his coaching centers than on the affairs and the concerns of the college and its students.
The second half of the movie deviates from the primary issue of Aarakshan. It becomes a battle between treating education as a business and teaching as a noble profession that molds young lives.
My favorite part of the movie is the confrontations between Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee which are absolutely explosive.
Focused on the most controversial issues in the recent years, the movie is a roller-coaster ride packed with high drama, conflicts and rebellion. It showcases the real test of love, friendship and trust for one another and their loyalty towards Prabhakar Anand. It portrays the torment that the youth goes through; who believe in equal rights, still continues to follow the caste-based society.
The role of Prabhakar Anand seems to be tailor-made for Amitabh Bachchan.
Deepika is looking gorgeous throughout the movie. Saif Ali Khan leaves a good impression of the Dalit community. Prateik Babbar, however, struggled with his dialogues and disappoints with his over all performance.
Manoj Bajpayee is exceptionally well in his patent negative role in Prakash Jha films. The way he delivers his dialogues and displays his evil persona in the movie is absolutely a treat to watch. The actors justify their respective roles. Dialogue delivery is very clear and remarkable.
Music is not as impressive as it is expected from the talented trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. However, lyrics by Prasoon Joshi make an impression due to intrinsic simplicity that it carries. My personal favorite is the song ‘Accha Lagta Hai’ by Mohit Chauhan.
Unfortunately Prakash Jha doesn’t stick to the core issue of Aarakshan. He gets distracted by the factors that don’t relate to reservation. In the end Aarakshan becomes a rather simple battle between good and evil. Jha neither takes a clear stand against the issue nor suggest a solution to overcome the problem of reservation.
Overall the movie is good. It is worth watching and I recommend it.