Manjhi – The Mountain Man

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Manjhi – The Mountain Man
Manjhi – The Mountain Man
“MANJHI – The Mountain Man” is relevant and riveting, but overdramatic!
The film tells you the amazing true tale of the man who, using only a hammer and a chisel, spent twenty-two years carving a road through a treacherous mountain. While the subject exudes awe, and the screenplay absorbs you, it’s the melodramatic treatment of the film that is its biggest flaw, making the film far less convincing than what it could’ve been. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, however, puts up a bravura act that deserves the highest appreciation.
The film is based on the true life story of ''Dashrath Manjhi'', who broke a mountain - for love. Dashrath Manjhi belonged to the lowest caste, living in a remote village cut off from the world by a rocky mountain range. Life for him was a daily struggle for survival. He loved his wife, Phaguniya, beyond belief. One day, while climbing the mountain to bring him food, his wife slips, falls and dies. Overwhelmed by grief, Dashrath decides to carve out a path through the mountain, so that no one else would suffer his fate. For 22 years, all by himself, with just a hammer and a chisel, he hammers away at the rocks, till the path is carved out from the mountain.
“MANJHI - The Mountain Man” is most definitely an inspiring story of the triumph of human will. However, rather than going for the gritty, director Ketan Mehta chooses melodrama, perhaps to make his film more accessible. While it serves the commercial purpose, it deteriorates the quality of the film. I’m sure the real life of the mountain man was far more amazing than it seems on celluloid. It is essential to rope in drama but in effective quantity. However, here the makers pour in drama in every act and blow it up with loud background score to elevate emotions.
Technically, the film is competent. The scale is big and the frames are appealing. Apart from the garish background score, the film has all its technical elements in appropriate quantities. The narrative is gripping, but gets a tad monotonous after a while. The film keeps switching between the flashback and present day, to make complete sense of the proceedings. There are social issues that are tackled here, although not adeptly. It charts a sequential path of the growth story of India and the increasingly complex political scenario in the backdrop, while the mountain man is busy breaking the mountain. The love story forms the core in this drama and overrides every other thing in each scene.
The performances are great across. But expectedly, it’s Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who performs par-excellence. He brings alive the character in the most convincing manner possible and his conviction and hard work are evident in every scene. His joy delights you and his sorrow (albeit melodramatic) makes you feel sad. He is singularly the best thing that’s happened to this film. If not for him, the film would’ve been a promising venture gone waste. Yes, he’s that good. Radhika Ape too is wonderful, so is the remaining cast, who make the proceedings watchable throughout.
In the end, “MANJHI – The Mountain Man” is a film that is far from perfect, but a story that needs to be seen for the sheer inspirational life that the real man lived and the exceptionally brilliant performance of the man enacting the same. Worth a watch!

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