Why Cheat India

wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

Has some powerful things to say, but mirrors the ‘the system is such, what can we do’ common-person attitude that it wants to complain against. And therefore, lacks the punch, maybe even rightly so.

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Director: Soumik Sen
Running time: 120 minutes
Genres: Social
More Movie Info

Why Cheat India has so much to say. And it does so too keeping the Indian education system as its focal point. While it maintains the balance quite well amongst all the issues, in its attempt to stay real, it loses grip in the climax.

Everything seemed just so easy for the anti-hero. But then maybe that is how it is in real life.

Within all that can be taken advantage of in the education system itself, Why Cheat India delves deep—at least much deeper than all the supposed exposé films. From the affluent parents’ child who is not really interested in their own education to the rat race that “classes” towns like Kota train you for, the film goes on to comment equally on the pressure on parents and by parents.

It also goes on to philosophise on the endlessness of needs and the limited opportunities. However, at places like these, the point is drawn out a tad long enough to take away from the impact it could have otherwise had. Similarly, the argument that children who live away from India do not take care of their parents back home has always felt like an exaggeration to me.

Similarly, it seems too skewed a view that this supposedly realistic world in the film has no room for honesty—almost zero. This is strange considering the characters are drawn out remarkably grey for a story that could have so easily gotten away with black and white. Also, it lays out casual sexism at home, work and in the film itself with finesse. It doesn’t shove it in the face and at the same time makes sure you notice it. It doesn’t have all characters behave with a gender bias, but has enough for you to relate. The film manages to achieve the awfully difficult balance while addressing many a social issue by weaving them all into the story rather than taking them up one at a time or when was convenient. In doing so, I guess it wasn’t easy to keep the climax tight and believable.

The writing can be applauded for little things like this even if it loses its way in the big picture. I especially liked the narrative tool of using Sattu as a character to detail the methodology of the exam-cheating scam and them zooming out later in the film to cursorily scan over how these scams are conducted. Similarly, it always catches my attention in a good way when there is such an obvious spot for a character to be set loose into a preachy spiel, but the writers resist.

The performances, fortunately, keep the proceedings as believable as is possible. We have seen Emraan Hashmi (Rocky) do his bits taking on various facets such as in-control, slick, loner, conniving in turn. The rest of the cast, almost all of whom are unknown, are spot on. Both Shreya Dhanwanthary and Snigdhadeep Chatterjee as the siblings who fall prey to Rocky’s supposedly well-intentioned schemes make you relate to them as someone you might know from real life.

It does feel like it would have helped Why Cheat India by a margin if things didn’t fall in place a bit too conveniently for Rocky. Everything seemed just so easy for the anti-hero. But then maybe that is how it is in real life. Those in power, those with money, have it easy.

- meeta, a part of the audience

32 reviewers(?) - 6 yays 13 so-so 13 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...By the end of the film Raja Bhaiyya loses all his hard-earned fame and money. As we stare into the void of his life there emerges from the mound of immorality a kind of hope.... full review

Thumbs up, by Tushar P. Joshi, Bollywood Life : ...The final monologue of the film has Emraan expose the flaws and loopholes in the existing education system. For students and parents both, Why Cheat India is a must watch to experience the lesser known facts about the prevalent system. Also, Emraan fans will be in for a real treat!... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...The confluence of dreams passed by parents, lack of opportunity, the mad race of grades, the growing illiteracy between need and greed and the alarming flaws in the education system is a cause of major concern. No matter how deafening the fireworks of our 69th Republic day celebrations go this weekend, Emraan Hashmi mirrors the ‘con’mersialisation of our education system in the nation that has many people limiting their life and their dreams for grades, clearance of an entrance that can be bought by a wealthy and immoral individual who can own and twist not only the life of the dummy and his children but many more in future.... full review

Thumbs up, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...From the very first frame, this one has its audience figured Read more at: https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/entertainment/movie-review/why-cheat-india-movie-review-emraan-hashmi-shreya-dhanwanthary-starrer-is-an-unpretentious-masala-entertainer-packed-with-one-liners/articleshow/67575772.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst... full review

Thumbs up, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, News18.com : ...However, because the film’s heart is in the right place and its observations astute, Why Cheat India is worth a watch.... full review

Thumbs up, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...Soumik Sen’s drama starring Emraan Hashmi is a rough-at-the-edges but surprisingly perceptive look at the dysfunctional education system in India and the losing battle that millions of students fight to get on the right side of it. Through his unscrupulous, but resourceful protagonist, Sen gives us an insight into the middle class’s obsession with competitive exams as a means for a better life.... full review

So-So, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Deccan Chronicle : ...The overstretched film also makes you wonder why the CBFC insisted on affixing “Why” before the title “Cheat India”, when in reality, the title serves as a homonym: the first meaning eggs you on to go ahead, and deceive and double-cross to one’s detriment or to one’s heart’s content; the other gives the image of the vast country as the one with unscrupulous morality as the basic fibre... full review

So-So, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Except Emraan Hashmi, there are no recognisable people in the cast. Okay, okay it can be argued that we like giving a chance to talented actors, blah, blah. But the flip side is that we also enter cinema halls and pay hefty ticket prices to see stars. If the idea was to make a drab documentary, then the intent should have been spelt out.... full review

So-So, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Why Cheat India can’t decide if Rocky is a hero or villain. I don’t have a problem with that. What’s harder to take is the inconsistent tonality and the convoluted second act. Every time you think the film has reached a climax, Soumik tacks on another end. Because Why Cheat India wants to both celebrate and punish Rocky. But that, like the hybrid of fact and fiction, needed far more imagination and audacity. I’m going with two and a half stars.... full review

So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...director Soumik Sen had kept the tone of the first half intact in the second half as well. While the first half is logically constructed, all logic goes for a toss in the second. Proceedings get more ludicrous by the minute. The twist, when it comes, is so convoluted that you can't help but shake your head in disbelief.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...Why Cheat India ticks off most of the boxes and Emraan Hashmi's confident performance keeps you entertained. If only Soumik Sen's writing and direction had a little more sharpness to it!... full review

So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, FirstPost : ...In many ways, the examples and events in the film are shocking for those who are inexperienced in the workings of the system. However, perhaps too attached to his script, Sen is unable to skillfully pull it all together. Some scenes are particularly untidy – in their design, execution and casting.... full review

So-So, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Emraan Hashmi does slimy quite well, Manuj Sharma, as his sidekick is effective enough, while Snigdhadeep Chatterjee and Shreya Dhanwantary as Sattu’s sister Nupur who carries a candle for Rakesh, play naïve and stupid with a lot of conviction. While the narrative does generate a fair bit of excitement it fails to draw a strong line between right and wrong. The statistics presented before the end credits may be a form of validation for this largely fictional work but the attempt to paper over criminality with cheesy one-liners is certainly not appreciable!... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Cheat India is informatively entertaining and Emraan Hashmi makes sure to maintain this throughout. Yet another, honest attempt by Emraan to prove why he can do a lot more. Skipping the preachy route, the movie just delves into a fun zone and that’s where it wins some brownie points.... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Mercifully, writer-director Soumik Sen (whose first film Gulaab Gang succumbed to overt melodrama) does not even try. This understated two-hour take on the jiggery-pokery that is allowed to go on in this country in the name of entrance exams and coaching centres, benefits enormously from a restrained performance by lead actor Emraan Hashmi (who is also one of the film's producers).... full review

So-So, by Sreehari Nair, Rediff : ...Why Cheat India, true to the nature of its protagonist, uses our cynicism as a security and finally cashes it.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Nearly everything the film says about what is wrong with a culture of learning build on rote learning and marksheets rings true. So also does Rakesh’s fate, which is so breathtakingly cynical that it is not entirely surprising that the censor board wanted the original title to be changed. Why cheat India indeed? Why not, Rakesh asks, and the movie works hard to prove him right.... full review

So-So, by Troy Ribeiro, Sify Movies : ...Overall, with its moderate production values the film manages to keep you engaged for most of its run time. But considering its strong social message it is supposed to convey, the film fails to leave an impact.... full review

So-So, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...The story and concept of Why Cheat India holds a lot of merit, and if the execution was the sharper and steadier, this one had the potential to graduate to another level. Even with the flaws in the story, the film and its various subjects have enough at hand to keep you entertained.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...Emraan Hashmi (also co-producer) is right in his comfort zone as the street smart crook; he gives Rocky a lot of swag and just a hint of melancholy to temper the wickedness. The unevenly written and choppily edited film, that actually wants to make a hero out of Rocky, could have done without that phony moralistic high ground; it could have probably been more honest and watchable as a comedy about how to subvert the system.... full review

Thumbs down, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...‘Cheat India’ merely robs audiences off their precious time.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...‘Greed is good,’ Hashmi spits the line from Oliver Stone’s classic Wall Street, missing the point of how that film applauded the smoothness of the operator. Why Cheat India moralises without taking a stand. The film has three endings, indecisively shown one after the other — one of which uses a refrain to Hum Honge Kamyaab as an afterthought, pasting it on immediately after another song, diluting any potential impact. This movie doesn’t appreciate trick or trickster. It takes craft to be crafty.... full review

Thumbs down, by Charu Thakur, india today : ...Is Why Cheat India worth your time? Definitely not. Give this a miss. Because you feel so cheated after watching this two-hour-long yawn fest, that you cannot stop asking yourself 'Why'. That's a question Emraan Hashmi needs to answer.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...Finally, the villain is outed: it is the confused, contrived writing. Why cheat us the viewers?... full review

Thumbs down, by Sneha May Francis, Masala : ...The sheer audacity of that man is pretty much what sets the tone in Why Cheat India. No matter how unethical the proceedings are, the filmmakers are bent upon giving Rakesh a halo to wear. It’s a relevant topic, no doubt, but one that’s handled with lethargy.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...The 'curse of the second half' in Hindi pictures is simply so severe, especially when it comes to films with well-known faces, that even as I find myself really enjoying a movie, there's a radar at the back of the brain constantly cautioning one to only hope that the post-interval portions even live up to the first half — by half. If so, then as an audience, you're pretty much through.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...I was also never fully convinced about the ease with which Rocky repeatedly pulled off these big scams. But I suppose that’s creative liberty. This fim takes a lot of those. I’m going with two out of five for Why Cheat India. If anyone’s having trouble sleeping, we might have found a cure.... full review

Thumbs down, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...There are parents who want their kids to have an engineering degree come what may. There are agents who help 'crack' the exams for a fee. The film tackles the problem of rampant cheating in these exams but it gets so preachy about a failing system and talks so much, you cannot help but yawn...... full review

Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...A jumbo mess of warped notions and random ambition, Why Cheat India trivialises education and shows sympathy for deceit.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...The moral position of the film as well as the central protagonist feels unconvincing in its carefully cultivated ambiguity. Emraan Hashmi’s Rocky is neither a hero nor a villain but a player. Fine! But blaming the system for an individual’s duplicitous ways and then finding a convenient awakening of conscience don’t manage to hold sway. Complex problems need complex cinema. Why Cheat India prefers to stay on the surface than dig deeper.... full review

Thumbs down, by Karan Bali, Upper Stall : ...The technicalities and the music make no impact and neither do the statistics we are bombarded with at the end of the film as by then, one is beyond caring.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rummana, yahoo! India : ...‘Why Cheat India’ is a half-baked story where the key ingredients fail to come together. The flawed execution makes this one a laborious watch.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

The workings of an examination scamster used to comment on the appalling state of the education system.

What Worked

  • all noteworthy points mentioned in the review itself

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • the stack of cash seemed too choreographed in an otherwise visually believable film
  • product placements

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A suicide. Not graphic.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Prostitution
  • Concept: When academically successful students appear for examinations on behalf of the academically challenged who have rich parents
  • General Look and Feel: No frills. Stays quite real.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

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