Review of Dasvi: Abhishek Bachchan is the perfect actor for the role he plays. The material doesn’t know if it’s an exaggerated parody, or a sharp comedy with real overtones.
A prison term teaches an illiterate politician the importance of education. Sirjee, what a brilliant idea. It’s a comic-book fantasy, but why? Is it the filmmakers trying to convince us not to consider their film serious, or are they trying to undermine its message?
Soon into Dasvi’ (which should have been spelt ‘Dasveen’ to account for the ’chandra-bindu’ in the word), Ganga Ram Chaudhary ( Abhishek Bachchan), an ‘eighth passed’ chief minister in Harit Pradesh (standing in as Haryana, given the multitude of Jat accents, witticisms, and witticisms), finds himself in jail.
Kya jail hai, sirjee. The place has the feeling of a small resort with Chaudhary posing in a room filled with modern gadgets and mod cons, supervised by Manu Rishi Chaddha, an obsequious jailor. The inmates are all well-behaved and orderly. There is no reception committee, no bristling bands, or scary feelings of incarceration.
Grunge and grime are kept out of view so that no one is beaten up. Jyoti Daswal, the new prison-in-charge (Yami Gautam), is the only one who barks orders. Everyone follows his lead, except for our hero, who roars until he starts purring. So does she. Padhaailikhaai, to the rescue!
Alert viewers will spot attempts to subvert via clever digs. Here are some examples. Here are some examples. Another character is called ‘anti-nasional (national), and another ‘liberal, ki aulaad. Given the current state, it is quite subversive for a film to highlight a newly-minted pass’ politician, whose electoral plank was ‘free education’.
Nehru, Gandhi and other prominent freedom-fighters and revolutionaries are all mentioned. A craven babu (Chittranjan Tripathy) who has served Chaudhary and is now busy yes-ministering his wife, is the butt of bureaucrats-are-no-good-jokes, and a couple of them land.
These things are lost because of the way the story plays out. The furious Khap leaders are seen swallowing a “mixed marriage”, giving Chaudhary an opportunity to protest against ‘jaatiwaadka jahar (zeher).” All of this happens quickly and without any backlash.
This isn’t the only fairytale element. Our hero rallies his loyal tribe and begins lessons on life and exams. He is accompanied by Arun Kushwah, a vertically challenged man, Danish Hussain, a librarian who is currently serving a sentence for “photocopying costly books”. What?
Bimmo, aka Bimla Devi, quickly learns how to play political games and shifts from frumpy salwaar–kameez to stylish handbags and stylish saris. Nimrat Kaur is able to get her oar in. It’s a shame that the plot portrays her as a selfish villain. Why can’t women be ambitious? Abhishek Bachchan is a rare talent that allows him to not take himself seriously and is a great match for the character he plays.
It’s a shame that the material doesn’t know if it is a parody or sharp comedy with real overtones. Both Nimrat (and Yami) are left to stand by in a film that aims to promote gender equality and inclusion with ‘ladies log’ as authority figures. Bachchan, however, gets all the clever lines.
Bimmo will get to take a serious shot at the kursi. Perhaps that could be the peg to ‘Baarveen. Madamji, that would be a great idea.
Dasvi movie cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Yami Gautam, Nimrat Kaur, Manu Rishi Chaddha, Danish Hussain, Arun Kushwah, Chittranjan Tripathy
Dasvi movie director: Tushar Jalota
Dasvi movie rating: 2.5 stars