Aarakshan (2011): Prakash Jha's Case Study on India's Socio-Political Setup

aarakshan, prakash jha
Aarakshan (2011) - Prakash Jha

Our Rating: 7.5
IMDb Ratings: 6.1
Genre: Drama
CastAmitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpai
Country: India
Language: Hindi
Color: Color

Aarakshan, directed by Prakash Jhahas something for everyone: To an average viewer, Aarakshan would serve to be a decent offering made special by the presence of a stellar cast led by Amitabh Bachchan himself. Aficionados would find it to be good enough to be considered as a case study on India's socio-political system. The critics will find it too absorbing to merely regard it as a satire on the prevalent education system. Jha has a great understanding of the Indian socio-political setup having himself contested elections from the state of Bihar—the second most influential state in the Indian political parlance. This knowledge places Jha at a point of vantage in the purview of Indian cinema. Jha's penchant for depicting realism in cinema puts him in a very elusive list of Indian filmmakers. With Aarakshan, Jha succeeds at both the technological and emotional fronts, and more than makes up for the shoddy display in his previous production, Raajneeti. Jha uses his stellar cast and camera to full effect in order to capture the audience's attention right from the onset. He builds up his plot slowly but rhythmically with a scalpel like precision that one seldom sees in Hindi Cinema. What makes Aarakshan unique is that it not only succeeds in posing serious questions about the sensitive issue of reservation but also manages to propose a common humanistic solution for it—one that follows a universal approach aimed at working at the very roots of the problem.

Amitabh Bachchan as Prabhakar Anand
Amitabh Bachchan as Prabhakar Anand
Prabhakar Anand (Amitabh Bachchan), a private college principal, has devoted his life to the ideals of equality, righteousness and self- sacrifice. His undeterred determination for his cause has elevated and evolved the education standards in a state that is plagued by casted- based politics. During his three decade long tenure as a principal of a private college, he has not only taken the college to new heights but has also shaped the lives of hundreds of underprivileged students from the backward sects of the society and is respected by everyone alike. One of benefactors has been Deepak Kumar (Saif Ali Khan), who also happens to be his favorite pupil. Deepak Kumar comes from an extremely backward setup and owes everything to Prabhakar Anand and worships him as a disciple. He has a strong liking for Prabhakar's daughter Poorbi (Deepika Padukone), who reciprocates it fully. Prabhakar is a staunch condemner of commercialization of education and wants to provide quality education to the poor and the needy free of cost. He is the sole target of all those who advocate commercialization of education. Mithilesh Singh (Manoj Bajpai), who runs a chain of coaching institutes, heads the nexus that aims to destroy Prabhakar and his followers. 

Manoj Bajpai in Aarakshan
Manoj Bajpai in Aarakshan (Right)
Amitabh Bachchan shines in the portrayal of Prabhakar, a portrayal that is highly reminiscent of his 'Angry Young Man' days. He goes through an entire gamut of emotions with an ineffable sense of ease that makes the portrayal utterly memorable. As Prabhakar, he is a loving husband, a caring father, a faithful friend, a staunch idealist, an undeterred revolutionary, but most importantly a humanist par excellence. It is Bachchan's best performance in well over a decade and even surpasses his portrayal of an inexorably idealistic principal in Mohabbatein. In fact, it wouldn't be a hyperbole to say that one cannot think of many actors in the country who could fit into the shoes of Prabhakar Anand better than Bachchan. Saif Ali Khan is brilliant in his portrayal of Deepak and yet again proves his versatility as an actor. It's his most powerful performance since his Langda Tyagi in Vishal Bhardwaj's Omkara. Manoj Bajpai is mesmerizing  in his chilling portrayal of a conniving business mogul, and offers a great contrast to Bachchan's portrayal of an outright righteous man. In fact, Bajpai seems to be the only actor in Hindi Cinema who has never been known to act badly. Bajpai's previous full-fledged performance alongside Amitabh Bachchan came in the supernatural thriller, Aks—a chilling portrayal of a diabolical criminal that had earned him acclaim as well as accolades. Deepika Padukone and Prateik Babbar offer great support to a cast that is studded with veterans like Saurabh Shukla and S.M Zaheer.

Deepika Padukone and Saif Ali Khan in Aarakshan
Deepika Padukone and Saif Ali Khan in Aarakshan
Overall, Aarakshan offers a great insight into socio-political scenario of the country while also focusing on the flaws in the existing educational setup. The movie celebrates the spirit of humanity and proposes a common humanistic solution to the paradox of reservation in our country based on principles equality and freedom. Despite the occasional lack of coherence, Aarakshan is a must watch for the fans of Amitabh Bachchan and Prakash Jha and all those who have a place in their hearts for good and healthy cinema. 

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

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Aarakshan Trailer

Previous Review: Unforgiven (1992)

Next Review: Kahaani (2012)

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  1. I remember watching it last year... turned out to be the exact opposite of what I was expecting but in a pleasant sense... simply loved Mr. Bachchan in his powerful portrayal of a righteous and humanistic professor.

    1. I enjoyed it equally... thanks a lot for sharing your valuable opinion!!!


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