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Movie Review: Setters

Banner: Lovely Films

Producers: Vikash Mani, Narendra Hirawat

Director: Ashwini Chaudhary

Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Aftab Shivdasani, Pavan Raj Malhotra, Vijay Raaz, Jameel Khan, Ishita Dutta, Sonnalli Seygall

Writers: Ashwini Chaudhary & Vikash Mani (Story), Siraj Ahmed (Screenplay & Dialogues)

Music: Salim-Sulaiman

Education and employment are two of the most important pivots of an individual’s life, yet these systems are vulnerable to corruption. Whether government jobs, public service examinations or entrance exams to professional courses like medicine and engineering, there are so few seats vis-à-vis the number of aspirants that the situation is almost begging to be manipulated.

Leaking of exam papers, the proliferation of proxy candidates and even the extensive use of technology to cheat in these exams is rampant. Ashwini Chaudhary attempts to bring the rot in the system into focus in Setters, a film that travels through Mumbai, Varanasi, Udaipur and Delhi.

The story begins with the question papers of a banking examination being leaked. As the question papers are kept under strong security, the ‘setters’ find a way to get to them, photocopy them, get them answered, and finally get the answers to candidates who have paid money to these ‘setters’.

Apurva Chaudhary heads the ‘setters’ operation, which cons the competitive examination system, which includes banking, medical and engineering entrance exams. Through their extensive network, they leak the question papers, provide proxy candidates and even use the latest technology to cheat. The operation runs into several crore rupees. Though Apurva is the frontman of the operation, the racket is actually run by Bhaiyyaji, who handles the ‘business’ from Varanasi.

To end the racket, a special task force under Police Inspector Aditya Singh is set up. Singh puts together a team of honest officers, Dibakar Mani, Ansari and Isha Shastry. While the cops are investigating every loophole they can find to nab the setters, Apurva and his team are busy finding new and innovative ways to get away.

After Apurva successfully ‘manages’ the banking examination in Mumbai, Bhaiyyaji entrusts him with the engineering examination. At the same time, the cops are on to their every move and they end up arresting three team members of Apurva’s team. Despite being tortured, they do not succumb. Apurva reaches out to Bhaiyyaji to help them get out, but he now has political aspirations and refuses to help him. This forces Apurva to use his own means to get them out and he does. This is a breaking point between Apurva and Bhaiyyaji, who part ways and set up their own individual setters operations. While the two fight it out, the cops use the opportunity to nab them. Thus starts a cat-and-mouse chase. Who wins this dangerous game and comes out unscathed is what the film is all about.

What works to Setters’ advantage is the writing. The details of the entire operation is engaging and exciting. At the same time, it would have been nice if some of the plot points were better explained, like how does Nizam manage to get the question paper printout on his vest, or how does Apurva escape from the airport? These are left unexplained, which doesn’t sit well with the audience.

Writer-director Ashwini Chaudhary must be applauded for thinking up a film that is an eye-opener. He and his team of writers have written an engaging film and Chaudhary has handled many scenes with aplomb.

Full marks to the music, background score as well as the track Kartootein. It is used well in the film and adds to the drama on screen. The film has been shot at real locations and that gives the story authentic appeal.

Performance-wise, Aftab Shivdasani steps into Aditya Singh’s shoes rather uncomfortably. He has a stern expression throughout the film. Pavan Raj Malhotra is a very good actor and he makes an impact as Bhaiyyaji, but at some places he overacts and is tedious to watch. Ishita Dutta and Sonnalli Seygall have nothing much to do and leave little impact. Vijay Raaz as Nizam lights up the screen every time. Though he has very limited screen presence, he is a delight to watch. Jameel Khan as Ansari also does a decent job. The actor who stands out is Shreyas Talpade. He gets into his character Apurva with ease and owns every moment of his role.

Verdict: Worth a watch!

Rating: ***

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