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Friday, 16 May 2014

Manjunath

One hears stories like Manjunath’s all over the place on your first posting after B-School.  But more often than not, they are urban legends.  What makes Manjunath’s story more scary or overawing is not just the fact that it is true but more to do with the fact that it could probably happen with any one of us.


Manjunath Shanmughan (Sasho Satiiysh Saarathy) is your average happy go lucky characters on a campus that I have not only grown familiar with but also very fond of – IIM Lucknow.  He is a Tamilian boy from the district of Kolar in South Karnataka.  He is the eldest of 3 children.  Like many of us, he is the first generation in his family to aim big and achieve it.

Manju gets placed with Indian Oil off campus along with his closest friend on campus – Gautam (Faisal Rashid).  He gets posted to Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh – not the most desirable places on mother earth for a fresh graduate from one of India’s leading management institutes.  Having said that, for a few of us (very few) like Manju, it would have been extremely exciting.

Like many of us, he finds problems that disturb him to no end.  Chief amongst those problems for Manju would be the adulteration of diesel with Kerosene.  Despite several warnings sent out to the petrol pump owner at Gola – coincidentally called Golu (Yashpal Sharma), the problem doesn’t get solved.  With no choice left, he seals the petrol pump.  The result? He was shot dead on a cold night in November 2005.

To many of us in corporate India, Manjunath serves as an inspiration.  A beacon of integrity.  He had the choice of looking the other way especially in places like Uttar Pradesh where incidents like pointing a gun at your face is pretty common place.  But even in places like these, shooting someone at point blank range especially in the corporate world is definitely not common.

I say this because in 9 out of 10 instances, cases like Manjunath’s would detract people from taking a post in areas where they are most required.  What happened to Manjunath is not a common occurance and rest assured, there are several of us who haven’t got the wrong end of the stick.  What happened to Manjunath was despicable and disgusting and leaves you with a bad taste – but please don’t stereotype the region based on this.

Manjunath is a story that all of you out there should know about and hence watch the movie.  However, it is not the best made movies and disappointingly at that.  One would have thought that the makers would have executed the story with much more intensity that what we see.  It could have been taken up at least 2 notches.

If Sandeep Varma (the director) wanted authenticity then there are several capable south Indian actresses who could have either essayed the role of Manju’s mother or at least dubbed for her in Tamil.  Both Seema Biswas and Anjori Alagh are as comfortable with Tamil as a fish out of water.

Sasho Satiiysh Saarathy is impressive in bits and pieces but definitely not in the parts where he believes he is being followed – another aspect of the movie that didn’t come together AT ALL. It was disjointed and unimpressive.  The movie survives, at the end of the day, due to its story and your desire to know what happened at the end of it all.  6 on 10 for what could have been so much better.

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