This Article is From Apr 07, 2022

Dasvi Review: Abhishek Bachchan Sinks His Teeth Into The Role But Film Flunks The Test

Dasvi Review: It approaches the job with too much seriousness and takes all the fun out of the exercise in the bargain.

Dasvi Review: Abhishek Bachchan Sinks His Teeth Into The Role But Film Flunks The Test

Dasvi Review: (Courtesy: bachchan)

Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Yami Gautam, Nimrat Kaur, Mubashir Bashir Beigh

Director: Tushar Jalota

Rating: One and a half stars (Out of 5)

A film that flagrantly flirts with fatuity and fumbles, falters and falls flat in the process, Dasvi is never in with a chance of getting its act together. It is a crummy political satire that takes upon itself the task of telling the world that education can achieve what power cannot and quotes Nelson Mandela in support of its assertion. Like such Hindi films usually do, it could just as well have fallen back on APJ Abdul Kalam.

What gets in the way of the undeniably noble purpose of Dasvi is its awkwardly self-conscious earnestness. It approaches the job with too much seriousness and takes all the fun out of the exercise in the bargain. Dasvi, streaming on Jio Cinema and Netflix, is funny but for all the wrong reasons. By putting a literal spin on the re-education of a politician, it undermines the comic potential of the premise.

The Abhishek Bachchan-starrer, written by Suresh Nair, Ritesh Shah and Sandeep Leyzell and directed by debutant Tushar Jalota, gives the lead actor a role to dig his teeth into. He does that with a fair degree of verve, but in the absence of a screenplay that can give cohesive shape to the film's disparate elements, he ends up being that proverbial backbencher who makes a lot of noise but makes little sense.

Bachchan is Ganga Ram Chaudhary, a defiantly semi-literate upcountry politician who has been the chief minister of a fictitious state ever since he can remember. He is convinced that he is born to govern in which way he can and there is nobody on the horizon who can defeat him. So, he is at liberty to treat his personal secretary Tandon (Chittaranjan Tripathi) - I am an IAS topper, the obsequious officer says - with undisguised disdain.

The wheels begin to turn when the politician is convicted in a scam and jailed. He hands over the reins of power to his silent, submissive wife, Vimla Devi (Nimrat Kaur). He is confident that he will be out on bail pretty soon and reclaim his post.

The pliable jail warden, Satpal Tomar (Manu Rishi Chadha), spares no effort to give the ex-CM all that he needs in order to feel at home in prison. But two things transpire simultaneously to queer the pitch for the man. One, an uncompromising and intrepid superintendent, Jyoti Deswal (Yami Gautam Dhar), on a punishment posting, arrives to take charge of the jail. Two, his own wife, having tasted blood, develops a fondness for the CM's throne.

The two women are soon going to teach the political strongman a lesson or two. How that pans out is what Dasvi is about, but the film never gets a clear view of a focal point because it bites off far more than it can chew and hurtles down a wayward course. Like Ganga Ram, who is led to believe that all he needs in order to learn English is to distinguish between active and passive voice, the film labours under many a mistaken notion that it finds very hard to justify.

To escape the hard labour that he is ordered to put in and to stop the spunky Jyoti Deswal from poking fun at his limited educational qualifications, Ganga Ram, whose schooling stopped after Class 8, decides to give the Standard X (dasvi) examination a shot. He believes he has it in him to master English, Hindi, History, Math, Science, Social Sciences, the works, and complete his school education.

His daring move is meant to trigger a series of comic events. It does nothing of that sort. Dasvi, painfully unfunny, beats about the bush just as much as Ganga Ram does in his attempt to catch up with all the formal knowledge that has passed him by.

What does that entail? In the process of figuring out the history of India's freedom struggle, he has encounters with Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, Chandrashekhar Azad and Subhash Chandra Bose, besides being exposed to the exploits of Bhagat Singh.

Ganga Ram shouts "Inquilab Zindabad" on one occasion, but Dasvi isn't the sort of film that is remotely interested in mentioning the fact that it was Maulana Hasrat Mohani, a prominent leftist freedom fighter, who coined the slogan, or let a certain Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru or the party he led enter the narrative framework even tangentially. Poor Ganga Ram, he cannot escape the bane of selective history!

While he is at it for whatever it is worth, Ganga Ram discovers that "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it" - he paraphrases it as "itihaas se na sikhne waale khud itihaas ban jaate hai". From the English language, he learns that "a tiger never changes its stripes". In the repetitive loops that these two aphorisms trap him in, he only finds ways to tie himself - and the film - up in knots.

He also stumbles upon the realisation that he is like the protagonist of Taare Zameen Par when it comes to Hindi - he is dyslexic. But every step of the way, he receives unstinted help from fellow inmates and the upright superintendent of police. But Dasvi flounders because the elements that could have helped it find meaningful answers to its fanciful questions - the script and some directorial imagination - do not quite make the grade.

Dasvi flunks the test because it walks into the examination hall without the necessary wherewithal. The principal characters - the politician, his wife, the policewoman and the CM's personal secretary - are all half-baked characters whose past is lost in a haze. The actors are reduced to fighting a lost battle.

The supporting characters - Ghanti (Arun Kushwah) and Rae Bareili (the name stems from a mispronunciation of "library"), played by Danish Husain - do make some impression despite limited opportunities but cannot save this preachy two-hour sermon on the virtues of education from being the dud that it is.