Marathi film Nagrik had every potential of becoming one of the finest films of the year had debutant director Jaypraad Desai been equally careful towards the script as he has apparently been while choosing the technical crew.
Nagrik’s biggest problem is its beginning and its end. The film opens with a very badly-written scene, in which a matured politician tries to convince his veteran to teach him some stupid lessons. Yes, this is true! And we witness the same level of disappointment when the end titles roll. We leave the cinema hall with a big question mark on our faces as how it happened? Now come on, please don’t argue that it was not for the aam nagrik!
Shyam Jagdale is a righteous, and therefore frustrated, political reporter, who is witness to all kind of nuisance that keeps going on in the corridors of power. One day he makes a secret political meeting public, thus inviting the wrath and advice of his seniors and also well-wishers. And then onwards he comes across many conspiracies and surprising developments.
Nagrik focuses on the powerful lobby of politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and even spiritual gurus. The film keeps measuring the helplessness of a sincere journalist and paints a hopeless picture of the system; before suddenly ending with a positive development, as if the poor scribe has won a jackpot and things have changed all of a sudden.
First we think it’s about communal riots; then we start believing that the main issue is about suppression of workers’ agitation; and finally we are moved by an incident of human sacrifice. These issues are prominently there in the story but they don’t look very integral part of it. Also, the way a seasoned political reporter like Shyam Jagdale reacts to all such incidents, looks very unrealistic. Overall, Nagrik lacks emotional connect, fails to activate anger amongst us and it doesn’t inspires the common man to join or initiate the fight against the wrong.
In one scene, it is shown a lot of sensation is created after information about a secret meeting between two politicians is leaked. But a few scenes later, a bigger development like the chief minister resigning from his post is shown with comparatively lower intensity.
But Nagrik is a slightly weak film, not a bad one. It has many good things also. The scene when Shyam Jagdale and Vikas Patil meet in a lift and challenge each other is a brilliant one. The short telephonic conversation between Nana Chitnis and Vikas Patil is also remarkable.
Sambhaji Bhagat’s soulful and meaningful songs, particularly Maanus Maarla, provide much-needed support. The film is brilliantly lit and captured; though at a few points it appears the victim of lazy editing.
Nagrik is complete winner on the acting front. It’s a pleasure watching Dr Shreeram Lagoo performing so effortlessly at this age. Even senior actors will be thrilled to watch him play Nana Chitnis. Sachin Khedekar is continuously giving remarkable performances one after the other, and his Shyam Jagdale comes in the same list.
The most noticeable one among the lot is Milind Soman. He has played the dashing and ambitious Vikas Patil so wonderfully that we are just left wanting more of him. I liked him the most when he gives an intense look to the journalist after coming out of the lift. Superb! Wish to see him in more Marathi films.
Sulabha Deshpande, Devika Daftardar, Dilip Prabhawalkar, Rakesh Sharma, Neena Kulkarni and Viju Khote have all decorated the film with their flawless performances.
Nagrik is a very good film on the technical front. It’s surely worth a watch. It will also rank higher when compared to this year’s other Marathi films. But it might feel a bit embarrassed when it sees itself in the mirror.