Kaagaz (2021) movie review: How Pankaj Tripathi manages to make almost EVERYTHING slightly watchable noh? Making a return in filmmaking after almost five years, Satish Kaushik has made a film quite unlike the ones he has made before.
Set in 70s to 90s UP, Kaagaz tells the improbable story of Bharat Laal, played by Pankaj Tripathi, which in turn is inspired by the very real life of Laal Bihari from Azamgarh UP, a man who was declared dead on paper by greedy family members and corrupt government officials so his land could become theirs. Which turns out is a very real thing,very much happening in Uttar Pradesh and when you stop and think about it,it’s not all that surprising at all. Bharat Laal, being a simple straightforward, illiterate but very literal man, then spends the next 2 decades trying to get the right paper work to get him declared alive, and kind of “Forrest Gumps” his way through life, becoming an unwitting messiah.
Satish Kaushik, who has written, directed, produced and also acted in the film as Bharat Laal’s opportunistic lawyer who has a change of heart eventually, clearly has a lot of conviction,and a desire to tell this story, which has been in some or the other stage of development at least since 2006, basis some quick googling. Back when Pankaj Tripathi had barely started appearing in films. So, in a timeline mirroring Laal Bihari’s IRL, for Satish Kaushik also, this journey is nearly 20 years old, and it shows. Not in a dated way, because frankly if this film was set in modern-day Uttar Pradesh, I’d believe it.
Instead, Satish Kaushik’s conviction and desire to tell the story shows. The research that went into creating and actualizing a fictionalized version of the protagonist, the landscape, that shows. But unfortunately, the Bollywood is showing too. You know sometimes, when you’re so taken by a song or a TV show, that you want all your friends and family to absolutely love it also. And when people begin to watch together, you kind of ruin their experience by talking all over it, “Oh man! This is going to be so good”, “Ooh! This is my favorite part”, “You are going to love THIS!” Just let people experience it on their own a little bit? Despite a crazy awesome story,ready-made conflicts and twists with inherent black comedy in its soul, and an actor of Pankaj Tripathi’s caliber at the centre, Kaagaz insists on holding your hand tight through it all. It’s not enough for us to see Bharat Laal trapa mouse and then leave it out in an open field, a person has to be telling someone else in a cutaway how Bharat Laal ka dil bohot achcha hai,woh usey marega nahi. Haan, matlab, dikha rahe ho aap. It’s not enough for a Mita Vashisht dressed like a politician, talking like a politician, journalists have to appear out of a crowd giving each other very basic information on what she is all about, like they’ve just wandered into the middle of one ofher rallies, not really knowing WHO they’re shadowing. It’s not enough for us to know that Time magazine published an article about Bharat Ram and his weird life, (which actually happened) we have to see him onthe COVER of the magazine.
Yeah, Time magazine. Satish Kaushik’s God voice narrating the amazing story isn’t enough, the film has to be book ended with a deep poem about “kaagaz” in producer Salman Khan’s voice. And also, it’s not enough for us to know ki yeh UP hai, yahaan law and order officials are mostly corrupt, there has to be an item song. “Character Dheela Hai” Kaagaz could have been much better satire had it trusted itself more. I kept waiting for the setting’s natural humor to emerge from the absurd circumstances surrounding a devout religious man who doesn’t even have sex on Tuesdays, but has to resort to doing the most apshakun thing of them all: take out his own shav yatra. Like Panchayat on Amazon Prime or even Zindagi Na Milega Dobara, where people and their lives they lead ARE the genesis of the joke, sometime at them, sometime with them, Kaagaz ko bhi khud pe bharosa karna zaroori tha. Lekin idhar, main wait hi karti reh gayi, jo asli black comedy nikal kar aane ki apeksha thi,woh unfortunately enough hua nahi. And while you feel the judicial system’s apathy and sheer neglect towards the very people it’s supposed to serve, the larger commentary on how PR and marketing really are the only fuels that light any fire in this nation, fails to emerge, if you’re not actively looking. Got to see Amar Upadhyay hasn’t aged a day since Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, also about 2 decades ago, so that’s good. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, Kaagaz is 7 of 10 at least I wondered while watching, ki how must Pankaj Tripathi feel in some scenes with bad actors, matlab, andar se unko pata hai ki yeh saamne wale ki wajah se scene kharaab ho raha hai lekin try karna hai poora.
In the End, Thank you guys for reading the review hope you guys get an idea about the movie and please also let in know in the comments ” How you like the Movie and Acting of Pankaj Tripathi.”