Thought-provoking, well done: Dasvi is a solid unique watch
Ganga Ram Chaudhary (Abhishek Bachchanlisten)) is the chief minister of the fictional state of Harit Pradesh. He is not strictly speaking an honest politician and is arrested for corruption and sent to remand prison as his bail request languishes under a tough and honest judge.
In prison, after a brief period of comfort and peace, Ganga Ram’s life is violently shaken by the arrival of a ruthless but disciplined jailer, Jyoti Deswal (Yami Gautam) whom he had transferred to the prison while she was minding his business in town.
For the first time in his life, Ganga Ram is forced to do things against his will and is soon cornered to such an extent that he is forced to return to elementary school to save himself from the constant routine of life in prison. It is at this point that Ganga Ram comes face to face with himself and all that he has done wrong in life.
He is trying to crawl out of the hole he dug himself into by clinging to the greatest source of uplift in the known world, education.
I’ve seen countless movies of this nature and knew which direction the story was headed, but it never spoiled the fun of the movie for me. In this case, the focus was on the storytelling, performances, and character moments of which they were plentiful and almost always effective.
The film portrays Ganga Ram for the flawed man that he is, but also faithfully documents how he realizes his mistakes and does something to make amends. It’s not just Ganga Ram who is on the path to change.
His wife Bimla Devi played by Nimrat Kaur who had been under his menacing shadow for so long finds her voice for the first time when she is crowned chief minister of the state in the absence of Ganga ram. She tastes power for the first time and is immediately corrupted by his influence.
She then begins to plot against her own husband so that she never has to give up her new position and the power that comes with it. This led to some interesting drama between the two characters. I felt this conflict could have been explored more and in better ways, but it still ended up being effective.
The rivalry and later camaraderie between Ganga Ram and Jyoti Deswal is great fun to watch. What I found endearing about these parts was how quickly Jyoti not only understood and assessed the changes happening to Ganga Ram, but was also eager to make sure he was on the right path until at the end and ensured that his schooling and education was completed.
There are a few exceptionally warm moments between the two towards the end of the film that would lure even some of the skeptics among the audience into the folds of the directors as these sequences are contemplated and executed with a great deal of sentimentality and heart.
Abhishek Bachchan has played some of my favorite characters in Hindi cinema and I never doubted his acting abilities. The fact that he picked terrible movies meant that he still didn’t get his due in the industry. Fortunately, as Ganga Ram, he is able to put his best foot forward.
The Haryanvi accent can be an on-and-off affair, but it never gets in the way of making the character effective and lovable. There are moments in the movie that fill the audience with doubts as to whether Ganga Ram was actually turning over a new leaf or was it just for show. This indiscreet doubt makes some of the film’s later sequences interesting.
Yami Gautam as the tormented jailer is great fun. It’s apparent from her mannerisms that she’s having a great time with the character and it’s reflected in her portrayal. This aspect of his performance helps to make the character even more enjoyable and effective. Nimrat Kaur as Bimla Devi is perfect.
Her transformation is abrupt, but Kaur’s performance is so on point that it doesn’t seem odd. On the contrary, it adds to the intrigue of the film. Manu Rishi and Arun Kushwah have strong characters and they are more effective in their respective renders than ever.
Tushar Jalota plays with a lot of different ideas and modes of expression in the film. Some of these ideas pan out and some don’t, but I was never irritated or annoyed by any aspect of the story or the execution. I always had a smile on my face while watching this 2 hour movie.
The film’s climax and the part involving the election required a lot of suspension of disbelief and in a film of this nature that can be forgiven. The only parts where I felt the narrative was a little wonky were the parts where Ganga Ram was shown imagining interactions with different revolutionaries during her study.
The executions of these sequences were confused and did not give the public a clear idea of what the director was aiming at.
Having said all thatDasvi is still a perfectly enjoyable film that’s enhanced by strong performances and plenty of heartwarming moments. It may be a unique watch, but it is definitely a very good watch.