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'Manjhi - The Mountain Man' review: A tale of mountainous heroism!

'Manjhi - The Mountain Man' review: A tale of mountainous heroism!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Saturday 22 August 2015

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At one point in the film, Manjhi the Mountain Man asks the curious reporter who hasbeen visiting him for years, why he complains about the system instead of opening hisown paper. 'It's difficult,' says the reporter. 'Is it more difficult than breaking amountain?' asks Manjhi with a laugh. The reporter is dumbfounded.

Yes. Although the film is about a man, working against all possible odds, to break amountain single-handedly, the process stands for several things.

You can interpret it as a symbol for odds, resistances, troubles, challenges and soon...Whatever way you look at it, Manjhi's story and his battle-cry 'Shaandaar,Zabardast, Zindabad', is terrifically inspiring.

Dashrath Manjhi's wife falling off the mountain makes him take up the task of breakingit open to pave a pathway, so that no villager would have ever have to climb thedangerous mountain again.

When he starts just a hammer in hand, he has a conversation with the mountainchallenging its superior air. We then see him struggle with a single stone, as the hugemountain looms in the background, making it all look impossible. With a maddeneddetermination, Manjhi toils away, year-after-year, ignoring his children and family, givingup work, to only break the mountain. The film likens his struggle to Shah Jahan buildingthe Taj Mahal for his wife.

Through the process, Manjhi forms a strange friendship with the mountain, holdingconversations with the imposing object, and even thanking it for keeping him alivethrough hidden treasures of water and edible plants.

And through his eyes over decades, we see his poverty-ridden village where labourersare beaten if they dare to wear shoes, migration due to famine, the Emergency declaredin India, untouchability being abolished, and cruel feudal gangsters that still opposereformative laws.

Producer-writer-director Ketan Mehta, off late, has shown the propensity to pickinteresting real-life stories (Sardar, The Rising, Rang Rasiya) that could make for greatfilms, but stop at being somewhat watchable. Where this film falls weak is in the over-the-top portrayal of Dashrath and Phaguniya's romance, the bits of lame comedy, andan '80s style excessive depiction of the villains.

In the end, Nawazuddin Siddiqui holds the film together. From the time he was a happy,in-love man to facing tragedy and taking the vow to break the mountain - he iscompletely in control and masterful. Ashraf Ul Haque is also impactful as Dashrath'sfather who cannot help but hate and love him in turns.

Over two decades, the time it takes for him to carve a path through the mountain, wesee the country transform and Manjhi age. He goes through every kind of trial andtribulation, but that does not deter him.

In that sense, he is the stronger mountain than the stone-and-rock one! His final line-" Don't sit around depending on God to do something for you; who knows God may be depending on you to take action" is priceless.

Despite the flaws, the film is watchable for Nawazuddin's exceptional performance and the highly inspiring story!

Rating: 3 stars

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