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We felt cheatedA still from Why Cheat India
Movie Review - Why Cheat India

We felt cheated

18 Jan 2019 | 5:54 PM

Film: Why Cheat India

Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwantary, Snighadeep Chatterjee

Director: Soumik Sen

[ + read story ]

Nonika Singh

Hero banne ka muhje shauk nahi, villain banne ka time nahi, khiladi hun bas khelna chahta hoon. Only the game that Emraan Hashmi films, starring Hashmi himself in the lead, puts up is rather dour. Indeed on the surface, the concept is good; the rot in the education system, cheating scams, paper leaks and even more akalmand ko nakalband banana, that is proxy examination takers. But if Raju Hirani’s Three Idiots had us in splits as well as pointedly exposed what all ails our education system, Cheat India, oops Why Cheat India’s attempt seems cursory and shallow. 

Why should India cheat, unfolds in its first few chapters. Surprisingly enough the film doesn’t begin with Hashmi but a bright student Sattu (Snighadeep Chatterjee) bogged down by parental expectations and demands of entrance examination that holds the key to the future of millions. By zeroing down on one person, one family to begin with, Soumik Sen the director attempts to make us feel for Sattu, an endeavour in which he barely passes. 

Even before the industrious achiever Sattu’s tryst with the world of cheating begins, you know where it is headed. Post interval, the game supposedly gets bigger and from engineering, we move to another lucrative degree MBA. But the enormity of the khel is only confined to paper. The surreptitious manner in which bookings are made in a hotel reminds you of Special 26 and its conniving ways, only it lacks the same bite or tension. 

With a hero as the mastermind of cheating India, clearly the writer/director don’t know which side to bat for or against; the system or its fault-lines. Indeed, who one can deny all is not well with the education world in India. But is that an excuse or an alibi… you almost expect Hashmi as Rakesh Singh to give an impassioned speech in the courtroom but we are saved the bother. 

Sure, Hashmi as the ring leader of the education scams, seen on the silver screen after a hiatus, is earnest. However, he is let down by the script that tries to justify his character and hence his ignoble actions with a backstory. Also, but for him the film doesn’t keep you interested/invested in any other character. His second in command Bablu (Manuj Sharma) almost seems like an intrusion. Perhaps, introduced for some merriment, he barely brings the house down. Singh’s love interest Nupur (Shreya Dhanwantary) too is not interesting enough and before you pass judgement on her behaviour, well a surprise is in store.

Past catches up with all of us or does it? One dialogue we love is, ‘khiladi hoon khel rahan hoon, only scam gets bigger.’ Alas, it comes too late and till then we have to suffer inanities like ‘greed is good’ and other mumbo jumbo. Not to say that the film is blather. But nor is it a powerful statement or scathing indictment or even outright entertaining fare. With the heart in the right place, it fails to rise above the newspaper headlines that it showcases in the end. No doubt, students commit suicide on a regular basis, no denying that in India parents spend an enormous amount of their income on children’s education and that coaching industry is a billion-dollar enterprise here. 

But just as these facts leave us cold, so does Why Cheat India.

nonikasingh@tribunemail.com 

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