Manjhi is based on a true life story of "Dashrath Manjhi" who broke a Mountain - for Love. Dashrath Manjhi was a poorest from the lowest of the low castes, living in a remote village cut off from the world by a rocky mountain range. Life for him was a daily struggle for survival. He loved his wife, Phaguniya, beyond belief. O...more
Manjhi is based on a true life story of "Dashrath Manjhi" who broke a Mountain - for Love. Dashrath Manjhi was a poorest from the lowest of the low castes, living in a remote village cut off from the world by a rocky mountain range. Life for him was a daily struggle for survival. He loved his wife, Phaguniya, beyond belief. One day while climbing the mountain to bring him food, his wife slipped, fell and died. Overwhelmed by grief, Dashrath decided to carve out a path through the mountain, so that no one else would suffer his fate. For 22 years, all by himself, with just a hammer and a chisel, he hammered away at the rocks, till the path was carved out from the mountain. It is a unique monument to love - An inspiring story of the triumph of the human will - and a passionate love story of the wretched of the earth. less
“ Manjhi - The Mountain Man makes for a rock-solid watch!”
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There are always some tricky rudiments to get passed through when a filmmaker attempts to film a story that is inspired by a true event. There’s an audience out there that doesn’t want a biopic to be as dramatic as a Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and then there’s one section that finds difficulty in connecting to a Paan Singh Tomar. Manjhi – The Mountain Man falls exactly in between. In the runtime of 120 odd minutes, you sympathize for this metal like character, laugh with him and eventually come out applauding him.
Taking nothing away from filmmaker Ketan Mehta, I have to admit the fact that Manjhi – The Mountain Man looked a film being carried over by one and just one man, Nawazuddin Siddique. The actor makes all other factors in the film appear dull in contrast to his acting that could only be measured as his finest till date. Of course that’s a hard choice to make but when you have him on screen plainly in each and every frame, you can’t help but admit the film is being run entirely by his magic.
Based in a small village of Gehlour in Bihar’s Gaya, Manjhi – The Mountain Man is the true story of Dashrath Manjhi, a man who single handedly broke a mountain in 22 years making it easier for his people to have access to all amenities. Dashrath, who runs away from his village in his teens to work in a coal mine returns home to find that the government has abolished untouchability. Of course that doesn’t stop the politicians and upper castes to molest these people deprived of a social life. Dashrath, who unknowingly falls in love with his own childhood bride Phagunia (Radhika Apte) elopes with her when her parents don’t agree to marry her to him. For a man who only finds solace in the lap her wife has nothing else to live for but her. One morning while he is working in the fields, he gets to know of his wife’s tragic accident. Unable to get her access to any medical facility on time, he loses her. That is when Dashrath decides to cut off the mountain and make a way within. Ridiculed by people for years, the love for his wife and conviction for his aim doesn’t stop him to continue working on the impossible task. Untouched with the national politics and other social issues, Dashrath goes on cracking the rocks unstopped. What does he accomplish in the end is what Manjhi – The Mountain Man unfolds.
What might arguably be termed a stretched subplot of the story, stood out as the shiniest highlight for me. The romantic angle between Radhika and Nawaz is so impactful that you actually end up feeling the pain that man goes through. The likeable scenes between him and Phaguni look extremely real and amazingly innocent. That’s one point where Ketan Mehta earns some heavy bonus points. For an audience that has a different angle to look at love stories are showcased something extremely subtle and touching. It’s hard to see Nawaz helpless after his wife’s death and taking his grief out on the mountain deplorably.
Manjhi – The Mountain Man very cleverly handles the sensitive elements in the plot that could have otherwise gone off track easily. From an orthodox society to an emergency imposing Prime Minister, the film has blended in corruption, social disparity, inception of Naxalism in a very believable approach. Coming out of the film does make us feel like we have come ahead a long way from the 1960’s.
You only wish Ketan had spent more time on packaging the script a little more tightly. Dealing with a central plot, the film could still have done without an extra 10 minutes that took the film nowhere. The low budget of course is also a factor that stays in your mind when you are thinking ‘this could have been presented better’. However, he has tried his best to make it look as legit as possible. So when you watch Nawazuddin licking off the moss from the well wall, drinking the muddy water from beneath the soil or chopping off his own toe after a snake stings him, make sure you don’t get faint hearted.
The cinematography is appealing. The DOP did invest some energy in capturing the village locales beautifully. The pan wide shots of Nawaz with the mountain make a compelling view. Sandhesh Shandaliya’s music and background score is apt and blends well with the mood of the film. It was delightful to watch Tigmanshu Dhulia in a guest appearance who showed traces of his iconic Ramadhir Singh from Gangs of Wasseypur. Pankaj Tripathi again stood tall to his rapport and delivered an impactful devilish performance. Other supporting cast such as Gaurav Dwivedi as the journalist and Late Ashraf-U-Haque as Manjhi’s father contribute well.
Radhika Apte’s on her way to achieve something special. Looking at the choices she is making, right from Badlapur to Manjhi, she does win enough praises for herself. Getting into the skin of a village girl and underplaying an authoritative yet loving wife, she is right on the spot. But the film again belongs to one man and that is the leading man himself. It’s really amazing how subtle a character turns when Nawaz plays it and how. This character in particular suited him the best. It had a childlike innocence and a loving man’s vulnerability. He has skillfully justified his aging in the film and has quite honestly become two pillars out of the four for Manjhi – The Mountain Man. As for his performance, his own three words that may have become a cliché by now – ‘Shaandaar, Zabardast, Zindabaad!