Imagine this: You’re sitting through a higher-secondary exam, you’re tensed and don’t really know the answers to what you’re seeing on the paper. However, there’s a low-toned roar in the examination hall, you see people are cheating and there are others to help them. Fast-forward to the result day and they have a higher grade than you. What do you think happened? That’s right, jugaad.
Jugaad; a word so massively used in colloquial South Asia speak, yet with no set meaning. It’s an anomaly which can make anything ‘work.’ Can’t catch a break in life? Jugaad your way out with not working hard but rather with smart malice in mind. However, what happens when you make this into a lifestyle and a booming business?
That’s exactly what Soumik Sen’s latest conman film, Why Cheat India asks.
Starring Emraan Hashmi as the sweet-talking mastermind ‘Rocky’, who is behind an obscure scam to get impressionable yet high-achieving students like Sattu (Snighadeep Chatterjee) to take entrance exams for those with the moolah to get their way, the film explores the mechanisms of coaching centers and education in India (where the former is already an INR 4500 Crore business) and how it has created inequity between the haves and have-nots.
Meandering through the various ways to cut around problems, the narrative looks at the underbelly of the education system and contrasts it with Rocky’s successes where his business is booming. However, the story takes a dark turn when things go awry and death changes the whole narrative – but not really.
Why Cheat India is more than just about those with the money. Set against the backdrop of budding-urban locations like Kota, Jhansi, and Jaunpur, where the pressure of rural to urban evolution is pushing desperate parents to make their children a part of the economical rat-race, the film comments on the mounting pressures of living in the third world and surely succeeds in finding its resonance with the audience there.
However, the film is not without faults. At times, it is stretched and disjointed, at others, it lacks a direction altogether and loses itself in weak plot build-up. That said, both the filmmaker and the leads do a good job of creating a working semblance, where Emraan Hashmi can finally prove that he is more than just a hero for the masses who does masala films.
All in all, Why Cheat India has the right amount of energy to keep one entertained. However, a better-plotted narrative could have really made the film one for the history books.
Something Haute rating: 3 out of 5 stars