Written by Manisha Lakhe on July 12, 2019
Gamchhe Ke Peeche Kya Hai…
A story about a free school for the poorest of the poor IIT aspirants run by a maverick mathematician should have been a hugely inspiring film. It starts out to be fabulous, introducing us to a bright mind and his yearning to become someone. The film crash lands and how! You hate everything about it, especially the brownface that Hrithik applies on his face to look like a small town lad.
Bihar Does NOT Mean Everyone And His Uncle Sports A Gamchha
I’ve lived in Patna, and what they showed in the film is not Mithapur (where the real Super30 school is located), neither is it Patna. It’s an urban idea of poor small town and their ‘sad’ lives where mother is forever making rotis and dad has a rickety bicycle and spouts homilies. Fuck the facts. They even claim the original teacher Anand Kumar has helped with the script. Did he forget to tell the filmmakers that he is a civil servant? An IFS (Indian Forestry Service) officer? Obviously it was easier to show dire poverty to make it more filmi, more melodramatic.
Also because they’re Bollywood’s idea of poor, they will all be:
1. Brown and dirty all the time (gag!),
2. Won’t have food but have big hearts (barf!) and
3. It will rain over their proverbial parade/adding to their woes all through the movie (puke!)
But Why Ruin Hrithik Roshan For Fans
I understand why everyone and their uncle wants to be politically correct and show ‘desh ka vikaas’ and all that, but why turn a gorgeous leading man who can out dance any hero that claims to know how to dance and give him a role that need him to downplay his assets? And NEVER break into a dance? Kya faaltugiri hai!
No one can deny that Hrithik Roshan is a good looking man. Then why does he have to tone it down by liberally applying the bronzer to look like he is a very poor, small town lad? Can someone tell filmmakers that ‘brownface’ might be insulting?
And what’s with the eternal hangover with the ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ mentally challenged act? That run, that confused look when he’s concentrating on the math is just wrong when repeated so many times…I did puke inside though when they made him look at his dad – awed by the homilies – like he was a ten year old instead of someone who had solved the most unsolvable math problem!
A Teacher To The Underdogs… Bollywood Ruins That Trope Too!
Hrithik still works in the first half of the film where plays the role of Anand Kumar, a math genius, doing the Good Will Hunting write on the blackboard thing. He hits sublime moments too, but the dirty gamchha gets in the way…
Alas he doesn’t have Michelle Pfeiffer of Dangerous Minds or Vind Khanna of Imtihaan to support him or inspire him he is going to be that prof himself…
But if Hrithik insists on being Koi Mil Gaya, it falls on the character actors to who win your heart.
His dad Eeshwar, played by Virendra Saxena is rather sweet and inspiring postman.
His brother Pranav played by Nandish Sandhu (great casting, looks like Hrithik’s brother in real life) is a great support for his school.
Pankaj Tripathi is flawless as the local politician who has his paws deep in the dirt of the business of education.
Even Hrithik’s dialog coach for the film Manish Kumar Singh has a one minute scene as a policeman who is unable to help protect the brothers against the threat to their lives.
Vijay Verma whom you saw in Gully Boy shines in this film as well as the award winning student of the Super 30 program reminiscing about Anand Kumar, a genius who could not make it to Cambridge because of poverty.
The best act of course is by the villain. Aditya Srivastava plays Lallan Singh who runs a successful coaching class which becomes even more successful when Anand Kumar begins to teach there. When Anand realises that the coaching classes are only for the very rich, and that he is contributing to the scam by teaching there, he gives it all up and decides that he will coach 30 poor but bright kids for free.
So far so good. You even hope that you will see something like Stand And Deliver where students from the wrong side of the tracks learn high math by teacher Edward James Olmos… But no! The filmmaker chooses what he thinks is going to work commercially and you facepalm when you see the students turn the film into a hospital version of Home Alone with many stupid baddies out to assassinate the teacher as well as the students. That half an hour spent on using math to defeat men with guns is perhaps the worst one has seen. It squanders all the goodwill Hrithik and the kids earned in the first half of the film. Of course all 30 students make it to IIT. But you are so disappointed, you want to drown someone in a vat of bronzer…
(Why haven’t I mentioned the romance angle? Because it was dumb to show a heroine who only dances and then gets married off to an IAS officer. That made me chew the handle of my Gucci bag to bits. That Mrunal Thakur was sweet in the role fails to count)
P.S. Biharis will be grateful that they didn’t show the chhath puja to make the film ‘look and feel’ authentic!
(a sanitised version of the review appears on nowrunning dot com)