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Serious Men Review: An incisive satire on primitive minds!
Friday, October 02, 2020 19:57 IST
By Santa Banta News Network
Cast:Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Indira Tiwari, Nasser and Aakshath Das

Director: Sudhir Mishra

Rating: ***1/2

Platform: Netflix

Every year, a new book gets a new life thanks to the movie adaptations and with every adaptation, we witness a heated discussion about what turns out more fruitful, the book or its adaptation. Well, let's not go deep down on the two world discussions and talk about Sudhir Mishra's 'Serious Men', based on Manu Joseph's 2010 novel of the same name. Here again, it's about book and film but after watching Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer 'Serious Men' it feels like this film has its distinct identity, special thanks to Nawaz's top-notch acting. 'Serious Men' is the story of a father, his son and the dreams he holds. Being from a science field, he wants his son to grow up and become a 4G urban elite and research on a gibberish concept.

'Serious Men' starts with the narrator Ayyan Mani's (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) favorite song, "The umbrella of night has so many holes. Who poured acid on it...is an unsolved mystery". While giving a hint he does not understand the exact meaning of lyrics but likes this song, however, he relates the song lyrics with his lower-caste grandfather who died on a train due to a heart attack as he unknowingly boarded on the first-class compartment of Brahmins. With Ayyan's narration, he compares his wife Oja's (Indira Tiwari) anonymous tricks of getting pregnant with his workplace research. Well, Ayyan works as a Personal Assistant to his Brahmin boss, Arvind Acharya (Nasser) who is a renowned space scientist in the National Institute of Fundamental Research.

Ayyan enters the premises of the research institute and pursues his work by flipping the white-board quoted with 'Indians who write in English don't understand India' with 'Reservations cannot be the only compensation to treating fellow human beings like animals for the last 3,000 years' written by Arivunambi Ghatak but Ayyan erase the author name and changes it with Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. On this, his colleague says, 'Ayyan, Amartya Sen never said this' but it clearly doesn't bother Ayyan. Just like this approach, he starts believing in flipping the conditions to change the scenario.

Being from a lower-caste society, Ayyan doesn't want his son to follow his footsteps and for this he takes his son for admission in a Christian high school on the recommendation of his boss. But because of his son's low IQ and other aspects, Ayyan decided to take back his son. From there he decided to prove to society that his son is a genius and with this vision, he coaches and prepares his son like a lab rat who is a quick learner but does not understand anything that he reads or speaks.

For Ayyan, his son becomes his Amartya Sen and takes a pledge the talent lies in DNA, not in color. With a perspective of making his son famous, he revealed in front of media cameras that his ten-year-old son is the genius. With immense popularity in school and society. The Bahujan leader (Sanjay Narvekar ) and his daughter (Shweta Basu Prasad) searches for a face for the party and to win the people's trust for slum redevelopment and with Adi, they find a true contender to whom they denoted aa a perfect amalgamation of 'Ambedkar and Einstein'. Ayyan and his son Adi's faith start changing until his son discloses his reality to one of his friends 'Sayyani'. After this, Sayyani starts teasing Adi for his fake identity and the pressure of being a genius counterfeit, makes Ayyan's son torpid.

After releasing the things that go over the top, Ayyan finds himself in a circus created by himself and his son as a joker. Ayyan creates everything to make his son distinct from himself but thinking of a rabbit hole he actually creates a black hole of his son and Adi was getting torn apart by its extreme gravity.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui waited for 20 years to work with Sudhir Mishra, it has been said that if you wait for long you'll get something fruitful. The exact thing applies to Nawaz as with Serious Men we actually are able to see Nawaz in a well-written and directed film. Sudhir Mishra's film is not just about a father-son relationship but it is about the primitive minds of society that still crashes over the caste system, religions, upper-lower class system. Sudhir has brilliantly showcased the ground reality in a simple yet sarcastically way. Well, Sudhir Mishra's film deals with the issue of caste-based discrimination without channelizing it in the wrong way.

Writers Abhijeet Khuman and Bhavesh Mandalia have also worked along with Sudhir Mishra but there were few scenes that make less sense like Nawaz's speaking Tamil although he accepts that he is more Mumbaikar than a Tamilian. Acharya's secret affair with his secretary also does not contribute anything to the film. But still, they also do not affect the flow of the story.

Nawazuddin as a father whose only wish is to give a better life to his son and can go to any extent to accomplish it is a perfect fit for the Ayyan Mani's role. A Tamil Dalit who is denoted as a moron, imbecile, knobhead by his arrogant boss, wouldn't affect him although he finds everything as an opportunity rather than crying over it. Nawazuddin acts as a firm soul for the film. Aakshath Das is a gem who fits perfectly in the shape of Adi. As it is not easy to coordinate with Nawaz's acting but Aakshath perfectly adapts the fear, hesitation and fluentness of Adi's character. On the other hand, the supporting character of Naseer as Ayyan's boss is holy basil in the water who hails the graph of a Brahmin Tamilian and sinks with Nawaz's character. Apart from him, Indira Tiwari, Shweta Basu Prasad, Sanjay Narvekar all do justice with their roles.

Overall, Serious Men ends with a photograph of a mother and child displayed in a gallery scene and a revelation that unfolds the harsh reality of our society. Sudhir Mishra's 'Serious Men' addresses the caste system prevalent in our society and focuses more on the frustration of a common man who denotes himself as a small molecule in the world. Whereas Ayyan's boss focuses more on the microscopic aliens who think that they are the main cause of spreading virus diseases. Sudhir sarcastically portrays the film canvas like how we forget to value the small molecules of society and rather kingpin the microscopic aliens whose existence is still in doubt. All in all, Serious Man is a must-watch, and with this, if you still want to ask anything then remember only primitive minds ask questions!
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