First I had second thoughts for watching this serious movie...a biographical movie. I like Nawazuddin and wanted to give it a try...thank god, I watched it...this movie will be a milestone in Indian movies!
Normally, Indian movies which are based on true stories will have some scenes to 'entertain' viewers. The director has not compromised anywhere or deviated from the real story. Well, the heroine, Radhika Apte, who has acted as Manjhi's wife (whom we remember for her hot role in 'Ahalya')
might be a slight distraction, but she was completely transformed into Manjhi's wife and acted at par with Nawazuddin. Many of their (very) passionate scenes come as 'dream scenes'! She seems to be a great actress.
Now, to the story of Manjhi, the Mountain man:
The story is based on the true story of Dashrath Manjhi, a labourer from a small village, near Gaya, Bihar. The tiny village is cut off from the rest of the village by rocky mountains. As it was common in those days (or are they still the same?), the local Mukhia (village chief) had made the local people as bonded labourers and extracted work from them for pittance. Village women were raped and abused by his men. Manjhi's father was beaten for not repaying the loan and then was asked to give his son, Manjhi as bonded labourer. Manjhi refused and ran away from home. He comes back home from Dhanbad (in a colourful pant and shirt!) thinking that the attitude of the village chief might have changed after the Govt. declared that 'untouchability' was a crime. But no, the chief embraces him at first but after knowing whose son he was, throws him away. Manjhi was shocked. He meets his childhood wedded wife Phagunia and elopes with her since her father refused to send her with him since he had no proper job. Many scenes show how much they love each other and later they had two children. Then one day when she was bringing lunch to him, falls down from the mountain and dies before reaching the hospital in the neighbouring town which was across the rocky mountains.
Then the story changes. Manjhi is bent on carving a road for the village to connect to the neighbouring town so that others will not suffer like his wife did. He starts cutting the rocks with just a hammer and chisel. He was called a madman and abused by his friends and villagers. But he never stopped cutting rocks for 22 years. A glimpse of emergency period atrocity and naxalite problem also is shown along. The local politician accuses him of stealing rocks from mountains and selling them. Takes thumb impression from him for money for 'building' a road from the govt. and swallows the money. A snake bites his toe and he just cuts it off and continues with his work. His will power is amazing. Kudos to Ketan Mehta, the director for bringing out the true essence of Manjhi's work without diluting it.
There is a scene where Indira Gandhi gives a speech with the famous slogan 'Gareebi Hatao'. Manjhi had gone there to New Delhi to complain about the Govt. officials for cheating the villagers from the road building money, the stage suddenly crumbles. Manjhi holds it on his shoulders along with other villagers until she finishes her speech. But he was not allowed to meet her.
A few dialogues, I loved:
'Bhagwan ke bharose par math baithiye...kaa pathaa bhagwan hamare bharose par baithe hain'
I liked this dialogue too..'when I can dream of cutting a mountain with a chisel and hammer, can't you start a newspaper?' Manjhi's dialogue with the news reporter!
After seeing the trailor you might think that Radhika is given lot of importance but after watching the movie completely, we just remember Manjhi and his struggle to carve the road, which is 360 ft long, 30 ft wide and 25 ft high. After 22 years of work (1960–1983), Dashrath shortened the travel between the village Atri and Wazirganj town from 55km to 15km.
Manjhi died on 17 Aug 2007 at the age of 73, while suffering from gall bladder cancer at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. He was given a state funeral by the Govt. of Bihar.
Yes, this is a sort of 'Love story' too!!!
Now, a few lines about Nawazuddin.
He is a Chemistry graduate from Gurukul Kangri Vishwa Vidhyalaya, Haridwar. Born in a Muslim Zamindar family, he did a course in acting in NSD (National school of Drama, New Delhi) also. His wife is Anjali and has got a son and daughter. Though he became famous a bit late, now, he has got a name for natural acting.
Please don't miss the opportunity to watch this classic movie!
Now, to a clip with the real Dashrath Manjhi who built, Dashrath Manjhi Path: