Marathi cinema has never shied away from making political statements. We’ve had a legacy of films that bring out (or attempt to) the dirty realities of politics – Jabbar Patel’s Sinhasan, Shrabani Deodhar’s Sarkarnaama, Chandrakant Kulkarni’s Aajcha Divas Majha etc.
Nagrik, is the latest one to join that club.
Nagrik, the title, comes from the protagonist’s newspaper column. Shyam Jagdale (Khedekar) is a reporter with a leading Marathi daily, and is famous for his column Nagrik. Shyam is famous for being a fearless reporter who believes in exposing the truth at any cost. The truth for the sake of this film’s narrative goes beyond the humdrum of corruption and election rigging/manipulation – it’s the nexus between politics, real estate developers, media & spirituality. Phew! That is a lot to cover.
Very few of us are unaware of this nexus in today’s day and age, so what is meant to be a hard-hitting shocking story, ends up evoking ‘so? What’s new?’ wala feeling ever so often.
The story, packed with characters and their back-stories, does not bring out Shyam Jagdale’s struggle to stick with the truth in a world of ‘marketing hack reporters’ as effectively as one would hope.
Director Jaypraad Desai makes an impressive debut in terms of the subject and the star cast that he has managed to get together for Nagrik. However, the narrative is vague, meanders around like it might get to a point, but really. Nothing happens. For eg: Like Dr Shriram Lagoo’s character Nana is a lawyer & a riot specialist with some sort of a trauma to do with his son as his back-story, but that strand of the story just fizzles out. One wonders if there was a need for establishing a background at all!
That said, Jaypraad gets credit where it is due, this couldn’t have been a simple film to do. Given that many a Marathi filmmakers believe in being obvious & repetitive with the point that they’re trying to make, Jaypraad uses effective dialogue, intelligent representations to bring the film together.
The writing attempts to be clever, with some obvious and some not-so-obvious references to real-life personalities/events. The dialogue presents quite a few opportunities for the single-screen audience to cheer and hoot. But despite all of it, the abrupt end that the film arrives to, leaves you wondering what the whole point of the exercise was.
The film features some of the most respected names in the industry — Rajesh Sharma, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Milind Soman, Sachin Khedekar, Dr Lagoo, Sulbha Deshpande… So the performances are, of course, good! However, at the cost of sounding superficial, Milind Soman should have had more screen time… (don’t judge!)
Nagrik, is a film that attempts to be a powerful, shocking film about this media-builder-politico nexus, but it falters because of a story that builds up to a cliché and because of far too many narratives.