Dasvi review: Manages to score only passing marks

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Dasvi

Director: Tushar Jalota

Writers: Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair

Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Yami Gautam Dhar, Nimrat Kaur

Streaming on: Netflix

Dasvi is about a corrupt, illiterate chief minister of an Indian state sent to jail because of a scam. The state is a fictional one Harit Pradesh (must be to avoid people getting offended and filing pointless cases). The politician must learn the importance of education that would transform him from being a ruthless politician to become a considerate ‘leader’. This happening in the heartland of India is ‘suspension of disbelief’ asking for too much. Ten to fifteen minutes into Dasvi, I decided to watch for what it is. But throughout the film I kept wondering what it is trying to do?

I don’t have a problem with films that try to touch upon as many issues as they can as long as the narrative is captivating and it flows smoothly. Dasvi tries to touch upon caste and gender discrimination, right to education, dyslexia, democracy and rehabilitation. A problem with films like social dramedies like Dasvi is that in order to make a point or to comment or question, they take easy refuge in generic and surface-level observations. Dasvi’s writing and direction struggle with identity. That’s why no character including the protagonist appears as a flesh-and-blood character. Everything that the three main actors are trying to do is borrowed.

Also read: Abhishek Bachchan holds screening of Dasvi in Agra jail where the film was shot

Abhishek Bachchan takes on the titular role of Ganga Ram Chaudhary with great enthusiasm and sincerity. But you can’t unsee the fact that an actor is trying to play a character way out of his comfort zone. The character of Jyoti Deswal played by Yami Gautam Dhar is butchered by the end. She starts as a fierce, never-break-down superintendent and becomes a teacher to a criminal in no time. The silver lining of this film is Nimrat Kaur who plays Bimala Devi, a domesticated wife of the CM who becomes a power drunk politician when she becomes the interim CM. Although, her character arc is farfetched (what isn’t in this film?) she gives enough glimpses that she can play a hilarious psychopath/sociopath someday just fine.

When Chaudhary reads a line from a history book, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, one might hope that the film will become ‘something of substance’. But instead, we get a movie which is not sure who it is catering to. The purpose of messaging is inconsistent. It seems like editor A Sreekar Prasad had a tough time putting together a bits and pieces film. There’s a lot of sunshine and gloss in Dasvi; a film based in a prison and involving a corrupt politician in the heartland of India. The chakachak-ness of the visuals distances the viewer from the setting. There are some quirky one-liners which are great as standalone dialogues but can’t save a film solely with dialogue-baazi. Dasvi is like a student who aspires to be the topper but manages to score only passing marks.



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