Maddock Films and Jio Studios collaborate with Netflix once again after Mimi for the streaming premiere of Dasvi. Directed by Tushar Jalota. It revolves around a corrupt Chief Minister named Ganga Ram Chaudhary (Abhishek Bachchan), who is sentenced to judicial custody. A man who is used to powerplay, finds himself lost in the land of alphabets.
During his jail term, he meets a tough cop (Yami Gautam), who challenges him to fulfil his long lost dream of completing the Class 10th exam. Meanwhile, Chaudhary’s wife (Nimrat Kaur) takes over the CM’s chair and is reluctant to let it go.
The concept is quite uplifting and exudes a strong feel-good factor. It is dynamic to see a film shot in a real-life jail. In fact, it is very rare in Hindi cinema that we see a prison centric film portrayed in a light-hearted and feel-good way. But yet Dasvi is sensitive in highlighting how criminality can lead to systematic flaws. At the same time, it ensures that criminals are not romanticised.
The fundamental right-to-education theme is quite empowering. Lessons about learning from the past are relevant and relatable. Scenes, where Chowdhry imagines himself with Indian revolutionaries and engaging in conversations with them, are poignant. It enhances the idea of understanding the immense struggles of India’s freedom struggle.
The idea of using common things to associate with the shapes of Hindi letters is progressive for the ordinary person in India. Using everyday activities with mathematical formulas encourages practical thinking. The theme and subject explored are progressive. However, the screenplay comes across as quite flat.
Moreover, given that the picture unites talented composers like Sachin-Jigar, the soundtrack is quite underwhelming. The embedding of the dance number ‘Macha Macha Re’ does not seem smooth and comes across as disjointed. I understand that this is supposed to enrich the commercialism of the movie, but somehow the songs are not as memorable or hummable.
Not to compare, but the reason why previous Dinesh Vijan titles like Hindi Medium and Mimi worked, is because of the effortless humour fused with social undertones. But both aspects seem forced. Addressing rampant issues like casteism motivates the country to move away from regressive disparities.
However, I believe the political commentary seems quite preachy. It does a disservice to the movie’s angle. I feel that the movie’s screenplay comes across as flat. Somehow, it is not engaging, although it tries to be. Arun Kushwah is hilarious. Danish Hussain is good too.
The character development feels half-baked and comes across as caricaturish. Abhishek has reinvented himself as an actor, over the past few years. He tries his best as the rogue politician, but somehow there seems to be a disconnect. I do not feel convinced by his representation of the role.
Nimrat, whilst she is a terrific artist, her docile-turned-cunning character seems outdated. The shift she goes through seems rushed and again, forced. Yami, as the disciplined and stern superintendent, however, is the soul of Dasvi. She commands a solid presence and brights up the screen every time. After a grey character in A Thursday, she presents another layered role brilliantly.
Overall, Dasvi sincerely endeavours to entertain and (literally) educate viewers in the process. It tries to be progressive but the lacklustre execution does not justify the concept. Could have been a much more polished product.
.5 (2.5/5 stars)
Dasvi streams on Netflix.