Banners: T-Series, Emmay Entertainment
Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Nikkhil Advani, Monisha Advani, Madhu Bhojwani
Director: Milap Milan Zaveri
Cast: John Abraham, Manoj Bajpayee, Aisha Sharma, Amruta Khanvilkar, Uday Nene, Manish Chaudhary, Rajesh Khera
Writer: Milap Milan Zaveri
Music: Sajid-Wajid, Tanishk Bagchi, Rochak Kohli, Arko
There is something to be said about the single screen era of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The dhaasu entry of the hero, the powerful lines thrown at the audience every second minute, and some catchy tunes along with a storyline that knows how to tickle when needed, are all in the blood of a Bollywood loyalist, whether they want to admit it in the content-driven 2018 era or not. And Milap Zaveri’s Satyameva Jayate not only admits it but unabashedly exploits that genre to its fullest, giving the audience a much-awaited commercial break.
The film starts with Veer (John Abraham) going after corrupt cops in Mumbai, using his modus operandi – which is burning them. Following a pattern, he starts killing cops that he thinks don’t deserve to wear the khaki uniform and to nab him, DCP Shivansh Rathod (Manoj Bajpayee) is called in. The cat-and-mouse chase between the two begins with Veer taunting Shivansh. Along with some major twists and turns, and some hot and happening detours, the motive behind Veer’s actions is uncovered. How Shivansh tries to stop Veer and how the latter strives to accomplish his mission is what forms the crux of the story.
The theme of the film is very evident as an action-packed, vigilante drama and it does full justice to it. The script is well-written but it is like a mix of many other films. However, it has been given its individuality with different treatment. It reminds you of the epic story of Ram Lakhan blending with Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic Shahenshah, with flavours of Akshay Kumar’s Gabbar. But Zaveri has been careful to set Satyameva Jayate apart by the surprises he has thrown into the script.
The action sequences are thrilling enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. The film, which has the hero not only tearing his clothes but also a truck tyre, is not shy about being a massy entertainer and will find its core audience in Indians who lap up the entertainment of South films and their remakes.
The maatam ritual sequence with the Tajdar-e-haram song in the background has been shot beautifully. The shot is barbaric as well as entertaining, and kudos to Zaveri for capturing it with an expert’s eye.
One of the biggest USPs of the film is the dialogue. Zaveri is known to pen some amazing lines and he has gone a level higher for his directorial. Promising us the feel of yesteryear masala movies in the year 2018, Zaveri has cleverly written lines ranging from ‘Burkhe mein ho ya ghunghat mein, aurat ko devi maana jata hai’ to ‘4G ka fast connection hai aur Google ki kripa hai.’ The writer-director also makes sure he extracts the right amount of drama from every line with slow motion shots and an effective background score given by Sanjoy Chaudhary.
But there are indeed some flaws in the script. The makers made it clear that they were looking to include plenty of commercial elements and a back story to all the kills would have taken away some of the sheen from the action. The story could have been crisper, especially the second half, which seems unnecessarily long-drawn in the climax scene.
The film comes with a message which is obvious in its tag line of ‘Beimaan pitega, corruption mitega’. The film revolves around corruption, which as the movie says has become a religion in our country. The vigilante angle works perfectly as John Abraham’s character is in the right place at the right time, magically so, to save the day and he punishes every type of cop, from a greedy one to a wife beater to the ones who are rapists. The message is apparent and it is not preachy, thanks to all the commercial drama mixed with a little romance on the side.
The music of the film has been trending since the movie’s most popular song, the remake of Dilbar dilbar with Nora Fatehi, hit digital media platforms. It has been a chartbuster. Tajdar-e-haram is another crowd favourite and this version of it is wowing the audience. Paniyon sa and Tere jaisa are pleasant numbers.
Milap Zaveri has tried to blend what was known as massy in the ‘90s with his own style. He has attempted to make a paisa vasool, commercial, masala hit, true to its term in Bollywood, with an efficient, if not-so-novel, storyline. And he succeeds.
Performance-wise, John Abraham steals the thunder with his scary eyes, over and again. The actor’s character has many layers which he executes decently but his muscles and the zoom-ins on his biceps take the cake. Manoj Bajpayee is brilliant, as always. We get to see him in an out-and-out commercial avatar for the first time and he pulls it off with aplomb. Debutante Aisha Sharma does not have much scope to show her acting skills but has her strong moments. Amruta Khanvilkar’s role is more like a special appearance and she is fine. Rajesh Khera is terrific. Uday Nene is good and Manish Chaudhary delivers an excellent performance.
Verdict: SMJ is an out-an-out commercial Hindi film, which has all the elements to hit the jackpot.