Pleasantly surprised by SUPER 30’s first half. It’s a 70% effective movie, and Anand Kumar and Hrithik Roshan (HR) have more to do with it than Vikas Bahl. Vikas takes the age-old template of masala and shoves Anand’s story into it, with remarkable ease in the first half and then goes hay-wire in the 2nd half.
This story is known to one and all; with AK’s appearance in KBC and news et. al. What one — I — wasn’t prepared for was the unabashed embracing of ‘masala’ tics that the likes of Kashyap’s buddy Bahl and Co., always vented on. The first half is an unabashedly masala movie; it doesn’t matter if Anand Kumar as real life person existed or not, with due respect to him and his condition. You could very well play-out Anand Kumar as a fictional character and it would still pierce one’s hearts; depending on-course, on the heart-hardened-quotient embodied in life’s turns and twists.
So, you can watch the movie for its proceedings and its known denouement; but the path – until the intermission; is damn arresting, and it should be mainly credited to HR’s consistency. He looks remarkably young with no stooping skin when he wins the Ramanujan award and is courting a rich guy’s dancing daughter. He is utterly convincing when he just slaps his ‘gamcha’ on the floor of his terrace when his post-man father [an exuberantly effective Virendra Saxena] announces that he’s been gifted an admission to CAMBRIDGE. And as he goes on with his mission of identifying his ‘task’ in life—unbeknownst to him of course –he takes us along a roller-coaster ride. He makes us believe in him when he rejects a kid nonchalantly saying there’s no provision for ‘socialism’ in EXCEL coaching classes [an inherent taunt to Mr. Akhtar’s nepotism-riddled production house?]. He them comes out of a party hosted by politicians and the education-mafias, a.k.a. coaching classes’ honchos, tries to turn on his motor-bike ignition and fails: He then ventures to a kid who he thinks is reading ‘MANOHAR KAHANIAYAN’, and then realizes the kid is solving equations. And then, right then, the borrowed masala-exuberance of Bahl’s kicks in and there’s a cycle-rick-shaw wallah who asks him: साब, आप को मंज़िल पहुँचा दे? And as HR goes through a tunnel, it hammers into his mind, and that encounter with the kid nudges him toward his true ‘MANZIL’! What else can be more masala than this? Everything, every action that HR takes going forward, has a root-cause to this encounter with the kid and the ride with this cycle rick-shaw wallah!
And what’s stunning to discover, more rightly, to re-iterate is the impact of masala movies on movies rather than the masala in life!! SHOLAY is literally re-lived here, in broken English, in a sequence that is profound in ideation and a bit of execution when it begins but loses its steam at the end. This ENTIRE scene, is again, equivalent in spirit to that talk in LAGAAN that Aamir has with one of his batsmen/bowlers and I paraphrase here – इन गोरों के लिए यह तो खेल है! हमारे लिए अपनी ज़िंदगी है! 3 सांल का लगान माफ़ – सोचो! And then HR’s Anand Kumar is convincing the kids when they are ready to leave in the face of a competition and inferiority complex by the ‘English’ language: खोने को क्या है तुम्हारे पास?
There are terrific masala moments, like when HR hood-winks the restaurant-owner with ‘numbers’: Remember Soorma Bhoopali? And when HR is first knocked-down by an ‘air-conditioned’ Contessa belonging to Aditya Shrivastav’s (AS) character, it’s a hoot! The scene has HR picking up coins and rupee notes, with the utmost concentration that even the trio of Rambha, Uravashi, and Menaka can’t dilute, and AS’s characters places HR in that car and asks his assistant to ride the ‘papad-laden’ bi-cycle to its destination: HR ejects his head for a moment outside into the heat, there’s the car’s exhaust billowing, and then, the windows roll-down, and he is in an AC car, and then, an AC room: From a smoke-billowing, heat-laden atmosphere to an AC room [And AS makes it very, very external – He keeps using the AC remote at every chance he gets!!] And a few scenes later, he’s on the cycle-rickshaw-waalah’s vehicle, who’s asked him, ‘साब, आप को मंज़िल पहुँचा दे? You get the cyclical/cynical drift? There’s घनन from LAGAAN and then there’s HR’S AK telling Aditya Shrivastav’s Lallan Singh, लगता है बहूत बड़ा तूफान आने वाला है, संभाल के रहिएगा लल्लन सिंग जी| The corrugated tin-roofs tremble in unison! Lallan Singh takes his ‘geometry-box’ offerings and just…leaves!
The film goes miserably hay-wire in the 2nd half with the over-usage of masala: And it’s terrible to see such a fantastic departure and journey from a railway-station never to reach its destination. There’s of course, a clap-worthy moment mid-way when a hospital assistant psychologically slaps a ‘donation-doctor’ and arranges for the recovery of Anand Kumar!
Of course, the irony is not lost when Hrithik Roshan, himself the advantaged product of a film-family utters, अब राजा का बेटा ही राजा नही बनेगा; राजा वोही बनेगा जो हकदार होगा!!
And what does one have to say in these days of #METOO movement, when a former-lover says, ‘MY TASTE IN MEN HAS ALWAYS BEEN GREAT.!’ And the husband smiles!!