‘Serious Men’ provides insight into the life of a 21st century dalit family. Ayyan Mani (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Oja (Indira Tiwari) are a Tamalian couple living in Mumbai. Ayyan works for a prominent government-funded scientific institute under a proud and boastful scientist named Dr Acharya (M. Nasser). Ayyan is delighted on the birth of his son Adi Mani (Akshath Das), and has some great plans for him. He doesn’t want Adi to suffer the fate he did as a child, which is why he works his way up to make his child a scientific genius. But, will Ayaan be successful at doing that?
Sudhir Mishra has very smartly directed the film by throwing light on minority community and also on class divide. He subtly shows the plight of women in places of power and how they are reduced to mere objects of sexual desire. The moment she shows she can rise, the patriarchy pins her down on the grounds of her marital status or on her own sex. Perhaps, Sudhir Mishra himself isn’t exactly pro-women as he has hugely under-utilised female protagonists. Oza should have had a more crucial role to play in Adi’s life. She is often side-tracked and is only shown at events where Adi’s being lauded. Also, she discovers very late that her son isn’t exactly a genius as he’s made out to be.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a star performer. Despite playing a Tamalian dalit, he doesn’t exactly wear the demeanour. His behaviour is very relatable to anyone living in the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai. The aspect of not being able to absorb the role more promisingly raises a lot of questions on his ability as an actor.
The world ‘dalit’ is heavily underlined in the film, but it shows the class divide promiscuously, rather than a divide based on caste. Perhaps it’s been Mishra’s agenda that it relates to various other issues as well. It’s interesting how the school principal lures Adi and Ayyan to take on to Christianity, and how smoothly does Ayyan dismisses the proposal. This is the only part that shows the plight of people belonging to a minority community.
India is a very colour conscious nation. This, too, has been sited very interestingly as Adi dresses up for a TV interview, where Oja asks the make-up man to rub some more power on his face to make him look ‘FAIR’. A suitable example could have been appropriated that being fair or dark is in the genes. Even a Brahmin could be born with a wheatish or dark skin tone.
Shweta essays plays Aparna an upcoming woman politician. Her father, Keshav Dhavre (Sanjay Narvekar), uses Adi to get Aparna her ticket to politics, but she shows a lot more empathy towards the child than her father does. Which is a good thing, because this goes on to tell that a child’s talent cannot be used for commercial gains all the times. It only put pressure more on the child.
Last, but not the least, this film underlines the importance of how children should be allowed to enjoy their childhood. We are nobody to laden our aspirations on them. They have a mind of their own and parents should allow them to blossom in an organic manner.
Name of the film: Serious Men
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Indira Tiwari, Akshath Das, Nassar, Sanjay Narvekar, Shweta Basu Prasad and Vidhi Chitalia
Director: Sudhir Mishra