Patna Shuklla weakens its impact with silly twist

Raveena Tandon Thadani and Anushka Kaushik in Patna Shuklla. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

Ideas don’t make films. Scripts do!

For the umpteenth time, perhaps, Subhash Ghai’s peak-time axiomatic statement reverberates in my head as I watch the final half hour of Arbaaz Khan’s small-budget production that is, perhaps as well-meaning as it is wonky in the final analysis, Patna Shuklla. The extra ‘l’ in the latter word was probably meant for luck, but the ‘l’ that is compromised here after a l-ucid first half, is L-ogic! And this is a serious story, not a masala movie!

Rinki Kumari (Anushka Kaushik) is a poor and hardworking student who has improved her concentration and efforts and has just given an examination in which she expected a minimum 60 percent. However, she has come to know that she has failed and is confident that there is something wrong in the way her marks have been assessed.

She approaches a humble lower-court lawyer, Tanvi Shukla (Raveena Tandon Thadani) to fight a case against the University as they have already reassessed her marks and have confirmed that she has failed. Rinki is the daughter of a poor man, Mata Din (Ambrish Saxena) and is dependent on this examination to etch out her dreams for herself and her father.

Tanvi takes up the case, but the University is represented by a shrewd counsel, Neelkanth Mishra (Chandan Roy Sanyal) who successfully pokes holes in their stand. A sympathetic and eccentric judge, Arun Jha (Satish Kaushik) wants to help them but is stymied by the ‘evidence’ offered.

Soon, a twist comes when a youth political leader, Raghubir Singh (Jatin Goswami) comes into the picture, ostensibly as a wannabe election candidate out to help needy girls, who wants to ‘help’ Rinki. In the first massive coincidence, it turns out that he is the exam candidate whose roll number was changed and put on Rinki’s marksheet as she has actually scored 63 percent and he had flunked. The case becomes darker.

Highlighting the murkiness of the education system and more (at least in Bihar!), we come to know that Tanvi’s very understanding husband, Siddharth Shukla (Manav Vij) has gained his job through not-very-straight means. As the political pressure on Tanvi and Rinki mounts, they bravely decide to fight it out even if they have to suffer in the process, like Siddharth being framed and their house being deemed as having an illegally-constructed balcony, which is then demolished!

But as Rinki almost loses her case, we come to a surprise revelation that is simply uncalled-for and is a pathetic ploy on the part of the writers. Even as the film tries to ask several valid questions (like how the University’s bigwigs allow such shady things to happen and how the poor are treated as dirt), I ended up asking a few questions too at the illogical culmination! And so will anyone who watches the film!

The film rests on strong performances and so the first 60 to 70 minutes are very gripping, interesting and lifelike. However, from the time the final twist regarding Tanvi comes, we are reminded of Subhash Ghai’s timeless axiom!

Raveena Tandon Thadani, Anushka Kaushik, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Manav Vij perform tremendously here. Satish Kaushik is simply adorable in what must be his last performance—we really miss this artiste. Rio Kapadia (another actor who is no more with us) performs well in his limited role, as does Ambrish Saxena. Rajashree Thakkar makes a mark as Mahua, while Raju Kher, looking like his brother Anupam, is alright as Tanvi’s over-indulgent father. Jatin Goswami as the two-faced Raghubir Singh makes an impact with his villainy, which merges cool with crude. But his performance does have hints of Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s style.

The direction is alright but the script errs as mentioned. Technically adequate, the film has forgettable songs and an average background score.

In the times of movies like 12th Fail, this one could have been another hard-hitting saga, but emerges as a tepid story with a harebrained climax. Sad!

Disney+Hotstar presents Arbaaz Khan Productions’ Patna Shuklla  Produced by: Arbaaz Khan  Directed by: Vivek Budakoti  Written by: Vivek Budakoti & Sameer Arora  Music: Akanksha Nandrekar & Samuel Shetty  Starring: Raveena Tandon Thadani, Manav Vij, Anushka Kaushik, Satish Kaushik, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Raju Kher, Jatin Goswami, Ambrish Saxena, Sushmita Mukherjee, Rajashree Thakkar, Dayashankar Pandey, Rio Kapadia & others         







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