Free Press Journal

Anna: Kisan Baburao Hazare – Imbalanced & half-hearted


Film: Anna: Kisan Baburao Hazare.
Cast:  Shashank Udapurkar, Tanisha Mukherjee, Govind Namdev, Narendra Jain, Daya Shankar Pandey, Kishor Kadam, Arif Zakaria, Rajit Kapoor, Sharat Saxena.
Director:  Shashank Udapurkar.

A cauterized and completely sterilized version of the Anna Hazare story, this attempted biopic has little to recommend it –other than a reasonably competent performance by the Director himself, who gets into Anna’s shoes and goes about doing everything possible to brandish him a Mahatma.

The story begins from Kisan Baburao Hazare’s early childhood years, when he had to shift to a smaller village because his parents found it difficult to make ends meet in the place where they were living. Kisan then stayed with his maternal uncle in Bombay during his formative years, had to argue his way to recruitment in the army, go through a vigorous fitness regimen and become an active participant in India’s war against her neighbour.

Those are the experiences that gave him a wider exposure to the real world, helped him find solace in Vivekanand, Vinoba Bhave and Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrines and lent him the confidence and maturity to bring about a social transformation in his native village Ralegoan Siddi- once he determined to seek voluntary retirement from the army.

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The film in fact begins with Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill agitation in which he undertook a lengthy fast unto death in order to bring the then government to heel. Was it an effort engineered by the opposition or was it a purely organic effort to curb corruption? Who sponsored the agitation and how did it gain strength in terms of followers and participants? None of these aspects are explored and neither are the other major players in the andolan or their opposers – including Prashant and Shanti Bhusham, Shazia Ilmi, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Medha Patkar, India Against Corruption, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Agnivesh and many more, even rated a mention here.

After regaling us with stagey news coverage of the agitation at Ramlila maidan, the film shifts to telling us about his early years by sending out a reporter (Tanisha Mukherjee) from a news channel to his socially transformed village. His assistant (Arif Zakaria) then takes over the telling giving us inputs into his life in the army and subsequent efforts to bring  about social engineering by turning  a small starving village into a self-sufficient one. Shashank Udapurkar does a commendable job in getting Anna’s mannerisms and gestures perfected. His performance in fact is the only good thing in this imbalanced and half-hearted attempt at a biopic.