SUPER 30 (2019)

  • Release Date: 12/07/2019
  • Cast: Hritik Roshan, Mrunal Thakur, Virendra Saxena, Pankaj Tripathi, Aditya Shrivastava
  • Director: Vikas Bahl

Anand Kumar and his family along with an IPS officer Abhayanand conceptualized and started a program called Super 30 in which they would hold an entrance test for the underprivileged and mostly backward class students with potential. They would select 30 from the entrance takers who would then be kept at Anand’s house and trained over the course of the next few months enabling them to crack the IIT JEE (Indian Institute of Technology – Joint Entrance Exam). Clearing the JEE would mean getting a ticket to a world of opportunity that was until then non-existent for them. Over the years, Anand and Abhayanand met with unprecedented success which not only made Anand nationally renowned but also threw open the gates on a plethora of many other such wonderful initiatives.

This story in itself is so uplifting and heartwarming that the documentary made on it by the “Al Jazeera” news network felt curiously cinematic and heart-thumping-ly encouraging. A film on a story like this could have been made in either of the two ways. One:- stick to the true story and take a documentary-esc approach to the storytelling. Two:- take the most significant and important events of the whole story as markers and weave a Bollywood-ish fictional tale around it. Unfortunately, Vikas Bahl’s Super 30 seems confused about which approach to take and in doing so ends up being different films at different junctures.

It was evidently not easy for Hritik Roshan to transform into Anand Kumar. Be it the man’s ragtag features, somewhat awkward manners, less than polished English or a heavy Bhojpuri accent. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Hritik is easily the 2nd best thing about the film. I was hooked in his act from the first time he appears on screen until that last moment that he must have referred to as “Happyness”. We all know the story and we all knew how the film would end and hence it was key for the character of Anand Kumar to strike an emotional connect with the viewers. If that was not the case, the film would have become pedestrian. Hritik and his organic interpretation of the character enabled that.

I was also impressed by the fact that Hritik plays the character from a very young age right up till his first batch of students make it through the IIT-JEE. He never felt unreal in the moments when he was playing someone half his age and that added a lot of credibility to his overall act. His expression of happiness when he receives a scholarship to Cambridge as a young prodigy and his expression at the end of the film resonate through each other and underline the full circle that his life has come through. It was a wonderful little equal that the director draws between the two periods and is equally well rendered by Hritik. Having said all that, the best thing about the film still remains the story that forms its core.

Let’s now dwell on what I didn’t like about the film. The climax was a huge letdown. Kids using all that they learned in their class to save their teacher from a bunch of goons sent by an evil politician just didn’t work for me. It might have worked in the 80s or 90s masala Bollywood film, but the kind of material that they were dealing with here left no room for such a caricature-ish finale. We all know that Anand and his family have been targeted numerous times but what we see here is pushing that grim part of the Super 30 initiative to a comical stratum.

Super 30 is way too long and after a while, it starts getting on your nerves. The songs, even the ones that forward the story in some way or the other were annoying. Apart from the “Niyamo” track which lingers because of its rousing tune, all other songs just pile on to the runtime and make you rustle in your seat uncomfortably. Every other character in the film apart from Hritik has precious little to do and hence they are mostly ineffective. Mrunal Thakur does a decent job as Anand’s love interest but her part is too small to make any significant dent. Two of my most favorite actors Pankaj Tripathi and Aditya Shrivastava are wasted in roles that could have been done by anyone.

There are atleast two scenes in the film that should have been chopped off altogether. The one in which Anand has his poor students compete with the rich students of the coaching center that he was previously working in was too much to fathom. If that was not enough, the next sequence in the same line in which Anand teaches his students how to take pride in themselves by making them enact Sholay in English was just cringe-worthy. The romance and what happens of it in the end also felt unnecessary. Contrarily the film needed to show or atleast give us a glimpse of the lives of the Super 30 but it wraps it up in one brief interview sequence. Totally ignoring the kids and their backstories and concentrating on Anand and the villains didn’t serve the film well.

Overall, Super 30 could have been a heartwarming affair and it is in some of the sequences but some lackluster execution from the director coupled with unnecessary characters, sequences, and songs robs the film of its merit and it falls way short of its mark. Had it not been for Hritik’s spirited act and the story at its core, this would have been unwatchable. If you are interested in the story of Super 30, it’s best that you turn to YouTube and search for “Bihar’s Super 30” by Al Jazeera. It is a far better and engrossing watch with all real characters.

Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)

 

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