Why Cheat India has a great premise and raises important questions but monochromatic narrative makes it a wearying watch.
Why Cheat India has a fantastic premise. There is a father who is caring as well as stubborn. He has spent his hard-earned money (a lot of it actually) for his son Sattu’s (Snighadeep Chatterjee) education and is waiting outside the exam hall anxious. He is adamant about his son passing the engineering entrance exam. Sattu is worried sick after the exam and sputters to his elder sister Nupur (Shreya Dhanwanthary) that he might attempt suicide if the result does not come in his favour. Nupur consoles Sattu by saying that he need not worry too much, not even about getting her married and the dowry that comes with it. When the results are declared and Sattu’s name features in the top-ranked students, it is the father who is more chuffed than Sattu. Things take a detour when Rakesh Singh a.k.a Rocky (Emraan Hashmi) propounds an opportunity to Sattu to earn even before he actually finishes his graduation and starts working.
With such an intriguing start, it draws our attention and takes our interest levels to sky-high. And that is it! There is a gradual decline in the engagement factor as a monotony sets in and the inevitable gets delayed to an extent that we are no longer interested when we do get to the end. Written and directed by Soumik Sen, the film is about how Rocky uses top-ranked students like Sattu to appear for the exams in place of other students (who can give loads of money for that purpose) and get them selected.
I forgot that it is actually Emraan Hashmi in the role of Rocky (He has done so well). There are, of course, instances when the film reminds us some of Emraan’s ‘known-for’ stuff (When he mouthed ‘Phir Mulaaqat’ song and that’s the only one I can recall in an otherwise forgettable album). Snighadeep Chatterjee looks brilliant as Sattu and we can clearly see the naiveness and nervosity that he exhibits (when Sattu gulps down a sob while his father is demanding a good score in the exam or when he is innocently contemplating Rocky’s offer while we hear his father’s voice in the background ruminating whether to spend money on Sattu’s education or Nupur’s marriage). This also portrays the grim reality of most of the Indian households with the son being favoured for higher education and the daughter’s ambition being crushed.
In the overly long build-up to the inevitable and anticipated climax, we do sense the motive and wrath of Rocky that made him take a plunge into doing this ‘illegal’ favour for the students (he stresses upon the fact that there is no end to our “zarurat” (need) while convincing Sattu, he gets fidgety when he hears about students who have died due to suicide, he even explains how he failed to pass medical entrance exams thrice and instead wanted to become a singer). So, what starts at the beginning of the movie, his anger that made him run this business, actually goes beyond the intermission (when he plans “bada scam” (bigger scam)) and further into the climax, and we feel like the anger has gotten to us with no end to this boring movie. Even the romantic angle with Nupur (Shreya Dhanwanthary’s performance is appreciable) is a tiring watch and the twist in the story that transpires in the climax does not really interest you anymore after having endured a monotonous tale.
The movie raises a lot of eyebrows. Rocky actually gets treated well in the prison with a policeman respecting him and thanking him for getting his son admitted in an engineering college. The court scene, where Rocky gets interrogated, looks visceral and has no definitive conclusion. It works in a way as we start pondering over questions raised in the film like rote memorisation for doing well in entrance exams, coaching institutions running a ‘business’ to strengthen the rote memory skills of students, ever-increasing suicide attempts by the students who fail to get over the line, and more importantly, throws light on people like Rocky who come out of prison easily and keep helping more students to pass the exams in the wrong ways. Why Cheat India has a great premise and raises important questions but monochromatic narrative makes it a wearying watch.