The fear of being silenced more often than not forces most of us to keep mum about surroundings that are not quite ideal. Manjunath Shanmugam was different. An IIM alumnus, Manjunath had decided to fight what was wrong and in process lost his life. That was in 2005. Back then it created a stir. But the question to be asked is, did that stir go on to become an undying movement, or did he die for no cause?
Does his life warrant a film? Yes, it does! It does as much as a film on any of India's most celebrated sons. Manjunath Idiot Tha Saala is a recreated story of this icon. This is an endeavor to tell the story in a documentary like exactness. The film attempts to display the struggle that Manjunath went through as he tried dealing with the fact that it was up to him to fight against corruption. He just could not have just let it be.
Ad-man turned director Sandeep Varma's crafty work displays the transition of a cheerful Manjunath into someone who cannot get over the fact that he is surrounded by corruption. Him change into someone who is regarded as mentally ill by his friends. The director also shows diligence in portraying the relationship between Manjunath and his family.
He is ably supported by refined performances of his cast. Sasho Satish Sarathy as Manjunath is brilliant. Yashpal Sharma as measured as ever in his role as Golu Goyel, the prime accused. The best of the lot however would be Seema Biswas. She underlines, once again, why she is considered one of the better actress Indian cinema has ever seen. Scenes where she is interacting with Sasho are bound to bring in a smile.
The director also uses music, composed by Parikrama, cleverly.
The film however loses much of its impact due the slip in the screenplay in the second half. As the writer wanders into realms best left unexplored in order to get make a moral statement the film gets seemingly longer, and slower.
It's limitations albeit, Manjunath is one film that should be watched. Just to remind us of that one tale of courage if not for its cinematic value. Having said that, director Sandeep Varma should be applauded for making a film that is true to the subject and not sensationalized.
Critic: Noyon Jyoti Parasara
(3.5 / 5) : Very Good