Director- Soumik Sen
Producer- Bhushan Kumar, Atul Kasbekar, Kirshan Kumar
Cast- Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwantary
With a lot of buzz around the theme of the movie and the controversies that surrounded the movie regarding its name, Why Cheat India finally hit the silver screens yesterday.
Let us look at the honest reviews that the movie has received from movie reviewers.
Bollywood Times Reporter Harnidh Kaur asked general public to review Emraan Hashmi starrer Cheat India and looks like the public has given positive response. The movie was praised for Emraan Hashmi’s never seen before avtaar and the reality that has been portrayed in the movie. The audience was impressed with the role of Emraan in the movie since it is the very first time that the actor is playing a character like this. Let us look at the honest reviews that the movie has received from movie reviewers.
The Times Of India
Director Soumik Sen’s scathing look at the exam paper mafia and the mind-set of Indian parents often treating their children as ‘investments for the future’ is relevant, but the way he tells this gritty story, doesn’t merit top grade.
The story is based in rural locations like Jaunpur, Kota and Jhansi, where the pressure on the youth to be engineers, doctors and MBA students, is probably far more than what students face in urban cities. As Rakesh Singh’s ambition to be a kingpin of exam mafia unfolds, the viewer gets to witness the kind of nexus that misuses and exploits bright students, and how this is of the biggest scams running in the country. Insights from this world of murky morals and malpractices, has high shock value and that’s what makes the premise of Why Cheat India, quite relevant. But, writer-director Soumik Sen isn’t able to give the narrative the kind of edge and finesse that it deserves. Many scenes from the film feel disjointed, owing to the choppy editing and inconsistent screenplay. Certain situations in the film, like Sattu’s blind trust on Rakesh, despite being aware that he’s just another spoke in Rocky’s business wheel, doesn’t make any sense. Rocky’s personal story, doesn’t add much depth to the plot. The second half throws up some surprises and twists, heightening the drama in the plot.
What does pass with distinction is Emraan Hashmi’s performance as the wily and confident, Rakesh. The actor pulls it off in every frame with assurance and ease. Even though most of his lines are like a series of punches clamouring for claps, Emraan’s charm and intensity keeps you hooked. The fresh faces of Shreya Dhanwantary and Snigdhadeep Chatterjee are perfectly cast in the roles of naïve characters.
The story and concept of Why Cheat India holds a lot of merit, and if the execution was the sharper and steadier, this one had the potential to graduate to another level. Even with the flaws in the story, the film and its various subjects have enough at hand to keep you entertained.
A few years ago the infamous picture of “Bihar cheating”—people climbing up the examination hall building to pass on notes to examinees — had left many incredulous. Whether the viral picture was fake or not, the problem is real. I remember growing up in Uttar Pradesh hearing tales of proxy thesis writers and PhD providers. The central conceit of Soumik Sen’s new film then rings true — using bright and needy students to fill in for rich and not so bright ones to help them clear entrance exams for much in demand courses. Rakesh aka Rocky (Emraan Hashmi) makes an enterprise out of the examination scam.
The rat race, the learning by rote culture, proliferation of coaching centres, significance of marksheets, reliance on jugaad, finding short cuts to success and buying everything — from degrees to jobs — is peculiarly Indian and could have lent itself well to an engaging, empathetic as well as sharply critical film.
Sen begins well. The lived-in small town ambience and its relatable people, a nice set of little known actors work well. Sen’s keen use of split screens, however, typifies a larger problem, metaphorically — of the film itself getting divided between the promising and the utterly disappointing. Things come crumbling down when action shifts to Mumbai and the exaggerated murkiness of the MBA scams, drugs, guns and more.
The moral position of the film as well as the central protagonist feels unconvincing in its carefully cultivated ambiguity. Emraan Hashmi’s Rocky is neither a hero nor a villain but a player. Fine! But blaming the system for an individual’s duplicitous ways and then finding a convenient awakening of conscience don’t manage to hold sway. Complex problems need complex cinema. Why Cheat India prefers to stay on the surface than dig deeper.
The movie, directed by Soumik Sen, has an interesting premise. Emraan Hashmi, who has had some practice playing all manner of cheaters and fradusters, stars as Rakesh Singh aka Rocky, a shrewd fellow who runs a scam helping wealthy candidates land seats in medical and engineering colleges by recruiting smarter students to take their entrance exams for them. He’s a messiah for desperate parents and students who know that a medical or engineering degree is a shot at a better life, and a Robin Hood-like figure for the brilliant but poor toppers who have loans to be paid off, parents to support, and sisters to be wed. Everybody wins in Rocky’s unique business plan.
It’s a shame you leave the cinema bored and underwhelmed because there was potential here to make a smart film about our flawed education system – one that encourages mugging and rote learning over understanding; one that values a degree over real aptitude. A system that drives students and their parents to seek dangerous, unhealthy shortcuts. Some of that is addressed but it’s not really what the film is about.
Hashmi, who is also one of the producers, plays his part with required flair. He’s very good in anti-hero roles, but this film can’t seem to decide how to peg him. He spends the bulk of his time on screen exploiting the education system, but also gets to deliver an impassioned monologue skewering the corruption within that very system. Of the remaining ensemble, only Snighadeep Chatterjee as Sattu, one of the bright young students who falls under Rocky’s spell, and Shreya Dhanwanthary as Sattu’s sister Nupur, make an impression.
I was also never fully convinced about the ease with which Rocky repeatedly pulled off these big scams. But I suppose that’s creative liberty. This fim takes a lot of those. I’m going with two out of five for Why Cheat India. If anyone’s having trouble sleeping, we might have found a cure.
Why Cheat India, the makers tell us, is a hybrid of fact and fiction. This blend – maybe we should call it faction – seems to have become Bollywood’s favourite genre. Think of Uri, Padman, Sanju, Raazi, Raid and so many others. These films want both – the authenticity and heft of fact with the dramatic possibilities of fiction. It’s tough to do and many directors topple. In Why Cheat India, Soumik Sen manages to stay standing for some time. Subtlety is not his strength but in his own, heavy-handed way, Soumik creates a reasonably engaging first hour. Ultimately however, he can’t resist the lure of full-blown, blaring background music, suspense via split screens and giving his star Emraan Hashmi a speech from the pulpit about how the system forces him to be corrupt. Throughout, Emraan, who is also co-producer, maintains his signature look – you know that slightly smug, satisfied expression of a player who is basically a good man doing bad things.
The narrative moves briskly, the characters are engaging and the dialogue, by Juhi Saklani, Mishkka Shekhawat and Soumik, is designed to deliver punches. So Rocky tells his star cheater Sattu, akalmand toh tum ho nakalman ban sakte ho ki nahi? And my favorite: mujhe hero banne ki koi iccha nahi hai, villain banne ka bilkul time nahin hai. Khiladi hoon khel raha hoon. Sattu’s wide-eyed innocence also keeps us emotionally hooked. Snigdhadeep Chatterjee nails the small town sweetness. Soumik gets the details right – the overbearing father, the grandma in the courtyard, the affectionate sister who dreams of more. Watch out for Rocky’s cheerfully foolish sidekick Bablu, played by Manuj Sharma. He’s fun.
Why Cheat India can’t decide if Rocky is a hero or villain. I don’t have a problem with that. What’s harder to take is the inconsistent tonality and the convoluted second act. Every time you think the film has reached a climax, Soumik tacks on another end. Because Why Cheat India wants to both celebrate and punish Rocky. But that, like the hybrid of fact and fiction, needed far more imagination and audacity.
All those issues that we have read in the newspapers or watched on television about collective cheating in examination halls, about supervisors demanding bribes, university scam, coaching class scam, fake identities, question paper leakage and the biggest tragedy of all, student suicide are reflected in the film, the unfortunate bit is that it leaves you untouched!
It is because the screenplay is ineffective and the treatment monotonous. The film drags in the first half without any twists or turns. There are no sub-plot and almost no supporting cast for distraction, as a result, the camera single-mindedly follows the protagonist for 2 hours 20 minutes which is a rather long time to only focus on Emraan Hashmi.
Post interval, there are new students, new degrees and new scams but they fail to engage you despite good music and decent dialogues. Certain moments in the film disturb you:
1.It is understandable that students are getting lured by money and losing focus but does it always have to be about women and drugs?
2.Is it logical that an outside trespasses the examination center and standing in the middle of the ground threatens to burn all the answer sheets of the students?
3.Is it possible that after the police have raided and arrested the hero for stacking a room full of currency he can be casually taken home by a minister? Don’t politicians have to sign any documents?
4.Hero Rocky/ Emraan Hashmi books a party hall in a 7 Star Hotel and to a room full of students and parents announces answers to the question paper on microphone and no case is registered against him by the hotel or anyone.
5.The ease with which Emraan Hashmi walks in and out of police stations and the arrogance he displays during the court proceeding is both embarrassing and humiliating to our judicial system.