Mohandas

Having your identity stolen is like having your whole life stripped away. That’s what happens to Mohandas,resident of a small village in Madhya Pradesh.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Published: September 4, 2009 5:39:22 pm

Cast: Nakul Vaid,Sonali Kulkarni,Sushant Singh,Aditya Srivastava,Sharbani Mukherjee,Uttam Halder

Director: Mazhar Khan

Rating: ***

Having your identity stolen is like having your whole life stripped away. That’s what happens to Mohandas,resident of a small village in Madhya Pradesh. Having gained a college degree (the first from his area who’s done so),he thinks his days of numbing poverty are over when he gets a job at the local colliery.

Except,when he gets there,he finds the job has gone,to a man who claims to be him.

Mazhar Khan’s debut feature,based on a short story of the same name by well-known writer Uday Prakash,has a wonderful sense of place and time. Long stretches of empty road,trucks bearing mounds of bitumen,huts with empty utensils,the detritus of lives lived in desperation.

And a story which has an immediate connect — of the powerless being mowed down by corrupt officials,who display an appalling disregard for law and order: when TV reporter Meghna ( Sonali) arrives,in defiance of her TRP-toting TV channel,to cover the ‘story’ of Mohandas (Nakul),you are reminded of all the Mohandases who struggle to stay alive.

The problem with Khan’s film is in his choice of lead actor. Nakul Vaid,who neither looks nor sounds like a Mohandas should,plays him from the outside: his pain and anguish are all dismayingly surface. Sharbani Mukherjee,who plays his wife with a slipping accent,doesn’t feel right either. Much more effective is Aditya Srivastava as the local lawyer who fights for Mohandas’s rights,and Sushant Singh as the man who uses all his wiles to keep his ill-gotten gains. So is Uttam Halder,as the small-town ‘patrakar’,who fights for both Mohandas as well as himself.

We need more films like this,but we need them better cast.

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