Hrithik Roshan's comeback vehicle, Super 30, showcases in detail how 'education is truly a business' in India, and how it affects bright but underprivileged youngsters.
The actor who is making a return to the silver screen after a gap of two years, pulls off what can be considered one his finest ever performances, as he essays mathematician Anand Kumar, who is best known for his Super 30 programme in Patna, Bihar, which coaches underprivileged students and prepares them for IIT-JEE (the toughest exam in the country).ý
The narrative, though inspired by the real life of the famed Patna mathematician, has its flaws and has been given a typical Bollywood treatment, perhaps to make it more commercially viable and relatable to single screen audiences.
Many scenes in Super 30 come across as unreal and veer away from the real story of Anand. Unlike recent hit biopics from the other side of the Atlantic, Super 30 is littered with unnecessary drama, tension, humour, violence, song and dance sequences, all done in typical Bollywood style.ýýAnd this is what takes away the seriousness of the subject. While creative liberties have been taken in generous portions, what you see is a dumbed down version of the story, which kind of challenges your intelligence.
The movie begins with one of Anand's underprivileged students, Fugga (Vijay Verma), who, while being honoured by a prestigious Western institute, narrates the struggles of his teacher (in flashback). With small-town Bihar as a backdrop, the movie details the challenges faced by Anand as he overcomes financial and other hurdles while setting up an institute to train children from the lower strata of society. His free-of-cost institute, which starts with a batch of 30 students also provides boarding and lodging to the impoverished children.
Hrithik plays the son of a humble postman Rajendra (Virendra Saxena) who is lovingly called Ishwar (Almighty) by his son because he will go to any length to make his son's dreams come true. He lives with his mother andýa younger brother (Nandish Singh), who is a violin student. He also has a love interest Rituý(Mrunal Thakur) who belongs to a wealthy family. With the main characters in place, the narrative then brings into the frame the characters who are out to jeopardise Anand's plans of starting his own institute. So you have an education minister Ramsingh (Pankaj Tripathi) who is also an entrepreneur, making millions out of running a coaching class that trains affluent students for IIT-JEE, and he is supported in his endeavour by a CEO Lallanji (Aditya Srivastava) who takes care of his business while he attends to his government duties.
Once the characters are in place, the story then moves on to showcase Anand's struggles. He is shown as a gold medalist math wiz who gains admission to Cambridge University, but due to lack of finances, he is unable to join the college, leading to his father's death. Faced with hardships, he gives up his desire to study further and starts selling pappad on the streets while his mother and brother support him in the venture by rolling out the pappads at home.
Call it fate or destiny, while on one of his pappad selling trips, Anand's bicycle crashes into a vehicle transporting Lallanji, who instantly recognises him as the bright young gold medalist. He is moved by Anand's plight and offers him a job to teach in the minister's institute. From then on, life takes a 360-degree turn for Anand and from sheer poverty, he slowly moves into the lap of luxury while gaining fame as a tutor. All this goes on until an incident involving a brilliant but poor boy reminds him of his true calling.ý
He quits the institute and his life of comfort, sells his possessions and sets about to start a free institute to teach underprivileged kids. In the process, he faces obstacles and also splits with his wealthy girlfriend, but he never loses sight of his mission.
The movie has its emotional moments, in fact, quite a few. It takes at least an hour for the movie to shift into top gear as the story of Anand's struggle unfolds. The second half, though engaging has been stretched in parts and one loses interest in between. Hrithik as Anand will win your heart with his fine performance. He gets into the skin of his character and has come up with a sincere and honest portrayal, a marked difference from his earlier performances. This must surely go down as one of his best portrayals so far. While method acting has been applied to best effect here, we wish the filmmakers had worked on a physical transformation for Hrithik as well, for, despite his rugged, dark skin tone and humble outfits, one cannot take away his poshness. Even the dialogue delivery, mouthed in Hindi with a Bihari touch, exhibits his 'urbaness' at times.
Mrunal Thakur, who appears in bits and pieces throughout the narrative, is just an add on and the story didn't need her to be there. Nevertheless, she plays her part well. But it's Pankaj Tripathi's humorous turn as the minister and Aditya Srivastava's scheming CEO who brighten up the screen with their apt portrayals. Both actors sink comfortably into their roles as they portray their characters to the hilt.ý
While there may be flaws in the true depiction of Anand Kumar's story, Super 30 is worth a watch for Hrithik's comeback act and the take on the state of education in the country.ý
Movie: Super 30
Director: Vikas Bahl
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Pankaj Tripathi, Aditya Srivastava, Mrunal Thakurý
Rating: 3 ý star out of 5