Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nassar, Indira Tiwari, Aakshath Das, Shweta Basu Prasad, Sanjay Narvekar
When you read a book and decide it will make a fantastic film, be rest assured 90% of the filmmakers will ruin the book. Sudhir Mishra however, is not one of those. Taking the satire Serious Men by Manu Joseph and turning into a film which is clearly the need of the hour – is what Sudhir Mishra has done.
Serious Men is about those unfortunate people who remain ‘servant class’ despite their better intentions. They have a mind that can really turn the world around, instead they have to trail their bosses and be yes men. Such is Ayyan Mani (Nawazuddin Siddiqui)’s harsh reality. Forever at a disadvantage due to the miserable finances he has inherited from his Dalit father. He is an assistant to a Brahmin boss, Aravind Acharya (Nassar) a renowned scientist. Yet the position doesn’t get him anything beyond names like moron, imbecile etc. To counter these tags that block the light at the end of Mani’s tunnel of future, Mani has devised a name of his ‘superiors’ Serious Men. These are men that life offers cocktails to while Mani juggles with the sour lemons. This is Mani’s way to payback for the injustice of his poverty and humbled heritage. He likes his own jokes and delivers them with such a straight face, that one often misses the humour and takes it for a fact. While it does nothing to change his circumstances, it helps him tide through nevertheless.
But circumstances change with the birth of his son Adi (Akshath Das). The child is a mathematical and science genius who stumps everyone around him. His popularity is what Mani has waited for all his life. He starts weaving stories about his child’s genius that start snowballing soon. Whether the draught of poverty ends, or do the poor always remain thus… is for you to watch on Netflix. However, I can definitely say it will be worth your two hours.
The film’s engaging script has been fortified by some exceptional actors. Nawaz, despite doing a very ‘Nawaz’ role, cannot be faulted at all. He appears in every frame and does fantastically in each. His rapport with his onscreen son, Aakshath Das is lovely. They have some really sweet moments between the father and son, which the genius, of not only the actors but, also the filmmaker. It is the nuances that Sudhir Mishra has thought of, which makes for an excellent screenplay and subsequently a wonderful film.
Be it Nassar, Indira Tiwari, Shweta Basu Prasad each has held onto their characters with such grace and easy that the pillars of the film’s cast stand very strong. But as is the problem with filmmakers who are too aware of social-political aspects in the world, Sudhir Mishra too tries to put in too much of details onto the audiences’ platter. He makes some scenes rather tedious and thus, unnecessary. The film could have easily been shorter by at least 10 mins, aye. Thankfully the dialogues and the dry humour come to the rescue.
In the times of crime and thrillers, Serious Men makes a wonderful watch. Don’t miss!