Rich content along with the charm of talented Pankaj Tripathi makes Satish Kaushik’s film a must watch
The story is set in late 70s spanning till 80s and even after that. But did you think the matter is a tale of the past? So what if you are living in a digital age? The importance of written documentation is still prevalent, very much alive in everybody’s lives, more so if you are a part of Indian system, which you are. Kaagaz is a beautiful real story of one man named Lal Bihar Mritak (here: Bharat Lal) who struggled almost all his life to prove he was alive, ON PAPER.
Watch the trailer here:
Bharat Lal (Pankaj Tripathi) is a simple bandmaster in a small village of U.P. With dreams to expand his business, he applies for a bank loan. Matters slip out of his hands when he gets to know that his extended family has declared him dead on paper to usurp his land. Begins his fight to tell the world he exists.
The story and concept is by Kaushik himself. The screenplay is by Imtiyaaz Hussain with additional screenplay by Ankut Suman and Shashank Khandelwal. The dialogues are penned by these three themselves. It’s a very good concept. Coming straight from hard news to the screens of cinema, it feels good. Needless to say, the topic does have merit for cinematic adaptation, and that’s what Kaushik has cashed on.
The approach is dark humor where there is immense grief in the comedy played in the narrative. The film checks all the boxes of an underdog-making-it-big kind of a film. You know the end result but still willingly want to invest in the journey- journey that is amusing and full of conviction.
Since you know the story is real, you are all way more related to whatever is happening. Successful attempts have been made to put you into the shoes of the protagonist to have you feel the same tension, the same pain, the same extremities.
The film moves in an effortless manner till the interval point and even after that to some extent. It does drop in its fervor and even in the pace after that. You clearly can see it suffer in terms of its grip. Although the story is moving, you want things to progress fast with more and more interesting things to happen. It is also here that some important dialogue has been struck but it doesn’t get conveyed properly.
The climax could be written well, considering the film’s starting point that high up there. Also it falls flat and comes too quick and abruptly. Yes, the exaggerated drama isn’t needed but cinematically speaking, it lacks in the charm.
The rustic feel of the village is maintained beautifully all throughout. The language, accent, dialect, the mannerisms are all described quite nicely. What is also good is that the protagonist resorts to practical solutions to his conflicts. The beauty of the narrative lies in the believability. The flaws are not of the technical terms but the writing and only writing, that too in certain parts only.
Pankaj Tripathi makes this film a winner single handedly. He performs his role so wonderfully that it’s difficult for you to take your eyes off him. He emotes with his eyes, his eyebrows, his forehead, his cheeks, his lips, and even his chin. Just observe him in this film and it would become a class in acting. He is simply fantastic.
Monal Gajjar too acts well. She brings out the innocence of the character very well on screen. Despite mostly sharing her screen space with Tripathi, she makes her mark and that’s a feat in itself. She not only makes you believe that she is a woman from U.P. but also depicts supremely well the different shades her character has.
Satish Kaushik as a lawyer is good and he does justify his role. Neha Chauhan as the journalist Sonia has her moments and she acts ably. Mita Vashishth has a small but important role, which is not written too well. She does perform fine.
Amar Upadhyay falters big time. He comes across as a small time junior who has been given a role. Shadan Ahmed is very good and comes across as a real wicked woman.
The songs are created with good intelligence. One song has a folk flavor while one is an item song. An Udit-Alka duet takes you to the era of 90s and you like hearing the songs. Background score by Srijan Vinay Vaishnav is fine, but could be much better. Most of the film relies on sound design. Some parts could be glorified by a more rightly placed score.
Cinematography by Arkodeb Mukherjee is very good. Capturing the essence of village, it gives you a sense of realism. What you watch is why you connect with the film. The camera is simple but effective. Production design by Jayant Deshmukh and Saurabh Kaushik is also very good. Raw, rough, and reflective of the tough times the protagonist sees, it sets the mood right.
Editing by Sanjay Verma does the needful for the most part of the film. The flow is decent overall. Where the film suffers is during the second half, because the writing falls weak.
It’s a good story. Made with good intentions. Made well. It’s a story that talks of humanity, determination, and will power. It’s a story that must be watched.