What is the story about?
Purushottam Ram, a lowly cashier working in a government office in Janakpur, a small village in Bihar, gets transferred to another village, Maragiya. As time passes, he starts getting buried deeper and deeper in a maze of corruption and bribery at the cost of his personal life.
Honestly, you don’t need a film like Das Capital to tell you about the harsh realities of everyday life in India's villages. The struggle of ordinary folk, caught between corrupt officials and lack of opportunities is brutal enough. However, directors Rajen Kothari and Dayal Nihalani don’t embellish this world with more dramatic flourishes. This is a deliberately-downbeat film and uses Purushottam's character to showcase how corruption has been normalized in society to the point where friendships and family ties cease to matter. Everyone worships at the altar of greed, and the directors go about telling Purushottam's story without any extra drama. The screenplay seems to be structured like an amateur play at times, with characters emoting and delivering their lines as if on stage. This conceit, however, makes this crushing narrative even more timeless in its misery.
Honestly, the directors are spoilt for choice when it comes to the cast. Made up of seasoned veterans from the theatre circuit, they all play their parts well, big or small. Jameel Khan as the corrupt BDO relishes his devilish role. KK Raina, Asif Basra, Manoj Pahwa, Seema Pahwa, Rajpal Yadav, Pratibha Sharma and Ravi Jhankal are all dependable. But this is Yashpal Sharma's chance to shine, and he invests a quiet, heartbreaking sense of despondence in Purushottam.
Music & Other Departments
Somnath Pakre's art direction is very real and captures the unhurried nature of rural life in detail. Chandan Goswami's cinematography is very basic and unobtrusive. Amod Bhatt and Mangesh Dhakde's score, however, becomes too melodramatic at times. And the editing is choppy.
Yashpal Sharma's performance as Purushottam is the standout. There is a scene where his character pleads for money so that he can sell off the dead body of a loved one and give it to the BDO, and it is heartbreaking to see his broken stance.
The screenplay is very simple and intended to be that. Viewers looking for subtlety or nuance will be disappointed.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?
Yes. It’s a change of pace from most films premiering on OTT these days, as it captures the harsh reality of corruption and how it has permeated ordinary life in rural India.