DASVI (2022)

  • Platform: Netflix, Jio Cinema
  • Release Date: 07/04/2022
  • Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Nimrat Kaur, Yami Gautam, Manu Rishi, Arun Kushwah
  • Director: Tushar Jalota

“Entertaining, thought-provoking, and well-acted. Dasvi is a solid one time watch”

— Ambar Chatterjee

Ganga Ram Chaudhary (Abhishek Bachchan) is the chief minister of the fictional state of Harit Pradesh. He is not strictly speaking an honest politician and is arrested on charges of corruption and sent to prison on remand as his bail petition languishes under a tough and honest judge. In jail, after a brief period of comfort and peace, Ganga Ram’s life is violently shaken by the arrival of a ruthless but disciplined jailor, Jyoti Deswal (Yami Gautam) who he had transferred to the jail as she was meddling in his affairs in the city. For the first time in his life, Ganga Ram is forced to do things against his will and is soon cornered to such an extent that he is forced to get back to elementary schooling to save himself from the constant grind of jail life. It is at this juncture that Ganga Ram comes face to face with himself and all that he had done wrong in life. He tries to crawl out of the hole that he had dug himself into by clutching on to the biggest source of upliftment in the known world, education.

I have seen innumerable films of this nature and I knew which way the story was headed but that never spoiled the fun of the film for me. In this case, the emphasis was on the storytelling, performances, and character moments of which there were many and almost always effective. The film portrays Ganga Ram for the flawed man that he is but also faithfully documents how well he realizes his mistakes and does something to mend his ways. It is not just Ganga Ram who is on a path of change. His wife Bimla Devi played by Nimrat Kaur who had for so long been under his looming shadow finds her voice for the first time when she is crowned the Chief Minister of the state in Ganga ram’s absence. She tastes power for the first time and is immediately corrupted by its influence. She then starts plotting against her own husband so that she never has to let go of her newfound position and the power that comes with it. This led to some interesting drama between the two characters. I felt that this conflict could have been explored more and in better ways but it still ended up being effective.

The rivalry and later the camaraderie between Ganga Ram and Jyoti Deswal are very entertaining to watch. What I found endearing in these portions was how quick Jyoti was to not only understand and gauge the changes coming about in Ganga Ram but was also eager in ensuring that he walked the right path till the end and ensured that his schooling and education were completed. There are a few moments of exceptional warmth between the two towards the end of the film that would get even some of the skeptics among the audiences in the folds of the makers as these sequences are envisioned and executed with a lot of sentimentality and heart.

Abhishek Bachchan has played some of my favorite characters in Hindi cinema and I was never in doubt of his acting abilities. The fact that he chose some terrible films ensured that he still doesn’t get his dues in the industry. Thankfully, as Ganga Ram, he is able to put his best foot forward. The Haryanvi accent may be an off-and-on affair but it never gets in the way of rendering the character effective and adorable. There are moments in the film that fill the audiences with doubts about whether Ganga Ram was actually turning a new leaf or was it all just for the show. This meddling doubt makes some of the later sequences in the film interesting. Yami Gautam as the tormenting jailor is a lot of fun. It is evident from her mannerisms that she is having a good time with the character and it reflects in her rendition. This aspect of her performance helps turn the character even more enjoyable and effective. Nimrat Kaur as Bimla Devi is perfect. Her transformation is abrupt but Kaur’s performance is so on point that it doesn’t feel odd. On the contrary, it adds to the intrigue of the film. Manu Rishi and Arun Kushwah have important characters and they are effective in their respective renderings as ever.

Tushar Jalota plays with a lot of different ideas and ways of expression in the film. Some of these ideas pan out and some don’t but I was never irritated or bored by any aspect of the story or execution. I always had a smile on my face as I sat through this 2 hours long film. The climax of the film and the portion involving the election demanded a lot of suspension of disbelief and in a film of this nature that can be forgiven. The only portions where I felt the narrative went a little wayward were the portions where Ganga Ram was shown imagining interactions with different revolutionaries during the course of his study. The executions of these sequences were muddled and didn’t give the audiences a clear idea of what the director was driving at.

Having said all that, Dasvi is still a perfectly enjoyable film that is elevated by strong performances and numerous heartwarming moments. It might be a one-time watch but it is definitely a very good one at that.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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