wogma rating: Watch, but no rush (?)
Were it not based on real-life, Super 30’s story would have been scoffed upon and the movie soon forgotten. Even with the “based on a true story” stamp and despite some decent insights, performances, and dialogue, it borderlines on simplistic and forgettable.Read more
Were it not for this news item that caught my eye, Super 30 comes across as yet another movie which makes a superficial attempt at being “different” while being just a “star” film–where the character stays under the shadow of the star. However, if truly the character was as involved in the film as the article makes it out to be, maybe we do have a different film at our hands.
Of course, there is also the discomfort of watching a Vikas Bahl film. Sure, I enjoyed Queen a lot and have loved some of the films he has produced, but the Huffington Post investigation under the MeToo movement makes me want to skip the film. I have always tried to keep real-life events at bay, for the films I want to write about because just one person doesn’t make a film. It has hundreds of employees, including many women. But, with every such allegation, it is becoming more and more difficult to…
For now, taking one film at a time...And other than this too, there is a niggling feeling of something being really off in the film, other than Hrithik Roshan’s brown-ed face and forced act too.
Super 30 releases on 12 July 2019.
- meeta, a part of the audience
The biggest thing that works for Super 30 is that something similar happened in real life. A math genius from a very modest background, Anand Kumar does tutor unprivileged math geniuses for the country’s most challenging and prestigious exams. The character is inspiring not only because he shows others how to accomplish their ambition, but also because he leaves his own aspirations aside. Now, whether there was such drama in real life or not and whether a storm brew at perfectly the same time as a storm was imminent in his life–your guess is as good as mine. While a few other insights also work for the film, the dramatization takes away from the story rather than adding meaning to it.
The other characters, thus the actors, don’t really receive the writer’s attention.
Yes, some scenes drag. And it is not because the makers do not know how to present a phase in the character’s life crisply. The two montages in the film are done as well as struggle/training montages can be done. They cover good ground too. Suddenly though, the film drops the pace to dramatise specific events, one of which is even irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. This uneven pace loses hold over the interest generated in the first half-hour.
Even so, the film does pick on some unexpected aspects. When faced with a tough situation, for instance, the most talented/intelligent people ultimately have to play and win a mind game before they can perform. This is an aspect that I didn’t think this movie would address. I have mixed feelings about the street play used as a resolution. In and itself, the street play worked, but I doubt that a one-off show like that could bridge the gap between deep inferiority complex and confidence.
Another thing I liked was that even as it caricatures a politician and a businessman, it doesn’t demonise the rich kids. It also has a few sweet moments between couples, engineered as the situations may be. And hey, Hrithik doesn’t break into a dance!
In fact, towards the interval, I even started to forget that this was Hrithik Roshan. Whenever I was reminded of the actor, it was because his make-up was inconsistent and not because he wasn’t doing his job with earnestness. In fact, at times his performance seemed over-eager. It can be said that that is the nature of the film too–over-eager to please. Over-eager to time a “down” right when the “up” is peaking and vice-versa as if life follows a specified rhythm. Over-eager to make the downtrodden pitiful. Over-eager to balance some of the heartless privileged with some whose heart is in the right place.
The other characters, thus the actors, don’t really receive the writer’s attention. The 30 kids might as well have been one faceless unit. We would remember the narrator because he is the narrator, but we have nothing else to go by. One event that makes us identify him among the lot is just incidental. Even though Mrunal Thakur plays Anand Kumar’s love interest with ease, she doesn’t really have a distinguishing character. She, like the politician, like the businessman, like the brother, is just a piece playing her role in Anand’s life and has no identity of her own. This characterisation is sorely missing.
Similarly, while focusing on the “education” industry, the film does point to the misuse of law and the fuelling of competition. It also talks about the unfairness built into the system. But it leaves out an important issue about the undue pressure and importance given to IIT exams. Of course, that would be a different film, but when I see a film around education that wants to humanise math and physics, I cannot leave out my worry about the inhuman burden on 16-17 year-olds (now 14-15 too!) to “crack” that one exam.
Suddenly though, the film drops pace to dramatise specific events, one of which is even irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.
Other than education, the film talks about wealth inequality and privilege. It also alludes to the corruption caused by the business-politician nexus and the power dynamics within. While it addresses these social issues that need attention, it is difficult to shake off the fact that the director, Vikas Bahl, has been accused of sexual harassment. Through the film, it was a struggle to keep this out of my mind. And yes, it has been the case while watching other movies too where people involved have been accused of a crime. This one was even more uncomfortable because the producers seem to be keen to give him a clean chit.
Maybe, that was the “missing” bit. Maybe, that was the bothersome “over-eagerness.” Maybe, the producers could have handled things differently, anything other than letting the accusations seem baseless would have done. Maybe, it would have been a better film even if not in its content, in its conscience. At least a film that speaks so intently about following one’s conscience would have done the right thing in real life too. Until then, yes, a film is not just made by the director or a handful of his supporting producers. It is also about the hundreds of others involved, and in this case, it is also about the man who has worked for almost two decades in guiding disadvantaged geniuses to their rightful places.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Super 30 is surely a one time watch. It is the classic story of an underdog. It tells us about the beauty of dreams and how one beautiful mind can better the lives of so many.... full review
Thumbs up, by Aakanksha Navals-Shetye, cineblitz : ...If you wanted to see Hrithik Roshan in the dancing-action star avatar then you will have to wait for his next outing. But Hrithik minus all his herogiri is still a treat to watch in this one. The heartwarming film is super inspiring on many counts. It only goes on to show that meaningful cinema need not compromise on entertainment to get the message across. You know that it’s a classic underdog story and can also predict the final outcome. Yet it makes for an interesting watch. You will see yourself rooting for Hrithik Roshan’s Anand Kumar and his Super 30. It’s a great story that needed to be told and it’s a story that’s well-told. So definitely worth a watch!... full review
Thumbs up, by Mayur Sanap, Deccan Chronicle : ...At the end, 'Super 30' makes you smile, it will also break your heart, it will make your spirit soar, and if you have no math inclinations, it will inspire you and make you appreciate its beauty, its usefulness and contribution to the world. And it also reminds us that without films so many inspiring stories of unsung heroes would go unnoticed.... full review
Thumbs up, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...Speaking about the music, while the songs flow with the narrative, barring Jugaraafiya and Niyam Ho, none of them linger for long. 'Shiksha' which is used as a background song, at places, leaves you with goosebumps.... full review
Thumbs up, Free Press Journal : ...This is a great story of a man who decided the poor can be privileged if educated. That a king's son need not be a king. It would have taken a really daft director to ruin a story so inspiring. That, Vikas Bahl, is not. Lucky that he is good. Lucky for Anand Kumar. This movie has anointed him for good.... full review
Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...SUPER 30 is a look into the life of a living legend the genius mathematician Anand Kumar who made the impossible – infused hope amongst the unfortunates that they too can make fortunes for themselves and their generations. Told through a filmy eye, it may sound filmy but this intimacy with the genius on screen enacted by Hrithik Roshan leaves a profound impression and makes us ponder – how much there is to this man Anand Kumar who stirred a revolution and how much there is to this actor Hrithik Roshan who is now so fearless and much KAABIL to the core after every movie.... full review
Thumbs up, by Michael Gomes, Khaleej Times : ...While there may be flaws in the true depiction of Anand Kumar's story, Super 30 is worth a watch for Hrithik's solid performance and the take on the state of education in the country.... full review
Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Super 30 surely has the heart at its right place i.e in the head. Hrithik Roshan’s spellbinding performance maintains the Intrigue. Watch it for what it has to say, rather than what it shows.... full review
Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...And I guess attempting a 3 Idiots (2009) type approach would've been hard to resist. Look at the numbers the Raju Hirani blockbuster managed to bring into theatres; even change lives, I reckon. Wish Super 30 similar luck with drawing in masses, and leaving them with a simmering thought, of course. The filmmakers have tried really hard towards it. It shows!... full review
Thumbs up, by Joginder Tuteja, Planet Bollywood : ...As a whole too, Super 30 does well in striking a balance between telling a commercial tale while maintaining the sanctity of real life episodes, hence turning out to be a film that definitely deserves a big screen watch.... full review
Thumbs up, by Anup Raaj, Rediff : ...Super 30 is a must watch for each and every student, parent and teacher. Every student and his family can relate to some parts of Anand sir's life. It is a very motivating movie. I joined Super 30 in 2009. It was good to get that feel again.... full review
Thumbs up, by Sreeparna Sengupta,, Times of India : ...While the narrative does have its flaws, 'Super 30' is a human drama and the story of a teacher who triumphs over the many challenges that life throws at him, to set an example for the world to see. Just for that it’s worth a watch.... full review
Thumbs up, by Ankita Bhandari, Zee News : ...Dialogues in the film are hard-hitting and will stay with you for some time. The cinematography by Anay Goswamy is brilliant. However, the songs are passable. 'Jugraafiya' is a romantic track between Anand and Supriya whereas 'Question Mark' is a fun-loving track where Anand is seen encouraging his students to take up challenges as fun.... full review
So-So, by Anna MM Vertticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...Ajay-Atul’s music deserved a sturdier platform. As things stand, it is one of the best things about Super 30. Basanti No Dance and Question Mark have an attractive beat and rhythm. Jugraafiya, with its lyrics by the inimitable Amitabh Bhattacharya, is entertaining. And the end credits roll on a haunting melody titled Niyam Ho.... full review
So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...Summing up, you will easily get more excited as well as amazed reading about Anand Kumar and his works on the various internet sites than watching SUPER 30 made on his life. And I think that should say it all about the end result. Ideally this should have been a great inspiring film reaching out to its young target audience, but sadly it doesn’t serve the purpose and isn’t any kind of memorable cinema.... full review
So-So, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, SUPER 30 has a fine first half but goes downhill in the second hour. Yet, the impact is made due to the high emotional quotient and also thanks to Hrithik Roshan’s superlative performance. At the box office, it will require a good word of mouth to rein in the footfalls.... full review
So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...Of course, the film has its moving and inspiring scenes and a powerful one, in which a hospital ward boy mocks a clueless doctor as “donation-wala” (like the reserved seat students are taunted as quota-walas). But the raja ka beta vs haqdaar question—how many of the thirty young actors– all dark-skinned—will get a second mainstream Bollywood film? Just wondering.... full review
So-So, by T J Reddy, fullhyd.com : ...With all that being said, Super 30 reminds you of the approach a charitable organization's volunteer takes when pitching their charity to the average person. The volunteer introduces him/herself and the organization he/she is working for quite amiably. After a quick chat, the average person is presented with a choice. The person can choose to donate to the charity or walk away even after being presented with the picture of a child living under circumstances that are none too hospitable.... full review
So-So, by Samrudhi Ghosh, india today : ...Under the guidance of math wizard Anand Kumar, his Super 30 turned out to be miracles. Under the guidance of Vikas Bahl, Hrithik Roshan's Super 30 is far from one.... full review
So-So, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...Wish the film had commensurate strength and no complex about getting accepted without banalities. It has clearly not acknowledged an audience that has changed since 2017, ironically the year in which this movie began production! “Super 30” does make a punchy point, but at a superficial level, instead of becoming the expose on our education system that it could have become.... full review
So-So, by Gayatri Nirmal, MiD DAY : ...Super 30 is a onetime watch for Hrithik Roshan's acting efforts but overall the Vikas Bahl film is an average affair. The story fails to keep the audience hooked for the duration of the film and there is a disconnect at moments that felt too impractical.... full review
So-So, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...Vikas Bahl’s direction is strictly okay and the screenplay is loose. I feel that the story would have been much more impactful if they would have stuck to the facts. Songs are forgettable but the cinematography is good. Caution: If you are expecting a biopic or a true story, you’d be disappointed.... full review
So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...This film seems like a hark back to the 80s because it reprises the socialist time in Hindi cinema when the hero was invariably one with modest means whom life hadn’t presented many opportunities. Even the privileged were portrayed with decided cynicism, almost implicitly implying that they had amassed their excessive wealth through notorious means.... full review
So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Despite its efforts to root itself in a distinctive milieu, Super 30 cannot escape the motivational movie template set out by such Hollywood productions as Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting and Queen of Katwe. Still, the movie says nothing about an academic system based on rote learning. The role of caste in holding back students is completely passed over.... full review
So-So, by Kriti Tulsiani, Times Now : ...At 2 hours 34 minutes, Super 30 stands too long. A crispness in narrative and taut editing might have elevated the film. The story of Super 30 is heartfelt and inspiring, the filmmaking, not as much. But just for its story, and perhaps as a driver of nostalgia and a tribute to the teachers, Super 30 can be watched once.... full review
Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Super 30 has good intentions and a necessary social message. “Raja ka beta raja nahi banega,” Anand says emphatically. “Raja woh hi banega jo haqdaar hoga.” This should have made for memorable cinema. But sadly, way too much has been lost in translation.... full review
Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...The cast is solid, particularly Aditya Shrivastava as Lallan, who appears to have something up his sleeve even when his character doesn’t. The kids Roshan guides have fun in smartly depicted scenes about math. Then, the genre flips: Kumar is shot in the stomach, and the film turns into ‘Home Alone: Physics Edition.’ Super 30 couldn’t possibly have been written by one of Kumar’s students. It doesn’t add up.... full review
Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...Yes, the real-life story is inspiring. But the telling of it is a drag. The film has its moments, which belong mostly to its young people: the kids are all right.... full review
Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...This is Bahl’s fourth film as director, and his first release after allegations of sexual assault were made against him by a former employee (he was cleared by an Internal Complaints Committee). If Super 30 had told its story straight, it might have had something revealing to say about coaching class culture, Kumar’s eccentric methods, and the psychology of these students. Instead, Bahl makes a grab for Akshay Kumar territory, all good intentions and no subtext. The smarts of Queen seem very far away now.... full review
Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Director of photography Anay Goswami does his best to provide a tinge of tangibility to the ersatz settings. Super 30 has been shot on studio sets rather than on real locations, so do not look for the real sights and smells of Patna. That is one of the key problems with Super 30: it tells a true story but it never rings true. Nothing in the film is less convincing than the lead performance. The idea to bronze up Hrithik Roshan so that he can impersonate Anand Kumar is anything but super: it is a formula that equals zero.... full review
Thumbs down, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...“Super 30” is engaging at first. But in the second half, Bahl switches to ‘80s-style Bollywood melodrama, where the villain sets out to divide and conquer by attempting to murder his virtuous prodigy, apparently for the crime of violating the basic capitalist commandment of “thou shalt make a profit.”... full review
Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...There is lot of sensible talk about what’s to be scared of when there is nothing to lose? “Chhalaang Lagana” (to take a long jump) is what the film advocates. Wish it could itself also take a small leap of faith, if not more, cinematically speaking.... full review
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