Kaagaz starring Pankaj Tripathi as Bharatlal, a character inspired by the real-life story of Lal Bihari, is a wasted opportunity. Satish Kaushik has narrated a human story in the flattest way possible, forcing the talented Pankaj Tripathi to do the heavy lifting. The story’s intention here is to show us the problems in someone’s life caused by certain bizarre systemic errors. Still, instead of making it a heartening story about a legal fight, Satish Kaushik made it a sleepy preach.

Bharatlal, who runs a local wedding band, is our hero. At one point, his wife, Rukmani, asks him to think about getting a bank loan to expand his business. During the paper works for that bank loan, Bharatlal realized that his relatives took all his land by declaring him dead on official records. Kaagaz shows us the 18-year-old struggle of Bharatlal to prove that he is alive.

The case is obviously unique and has all the scope to become material for a cinema. But the treatment messes up the whole idea. Satish Kaushik and his writers seem to be very confused about how to treat this real-life drama. In the beginning, they are treating it as a typical comedy movie, and you even have an item number featuring Sandeepa Dhar where even the central character is dancing with her. Towards the middle, it takes a satirical shape that goes back to being a mundane Bollywood comedy. Towards the end, it suddenly becomes this empathetic story of human struggle. The sheer inability of the script to structure this real-life incident is the primary reason we won’t feel for the character by the end of the movie. I am saying this about a character performed by Pankaj Tripathi, so imagine how shallow the writing is.

Pankaj Tripathi is playing the transition of this character over a period of 18 years, and he is trying to make Bharatlal an endearing presence. But the writing isn’t giving him a space to build that empathy. The character is treated differently at various points, messing up that emotional continuity. Monal Gajjar delivers a pretty average performance as the always whining wife, Rukmani. Satish Kaushik himself plays the role of the advocate who helps Bharatlal in the process.

There is no real enthusiasm in the making part to present the story in a more affecting way. There are scenes in the film that are supposed to show us the shady side of the hero’s relatives, and the way those frames get zoomed-in digitally can tell you the lack of preparation in the visual conception. Humour is included without any grace, and the preach in the dialogues will remind you of the melodramas that were released during the 80s and 90s. As I already said, the shifts in the movie’s emotional tone are extremely abrupt, and you have to be far too naive to feel for Bharatlal.

I think filmmakers should consider taking the theme of Kaagaz to create a purely fictional movie. It exposes a flaw in our system that if you look from a very cinematic angle, it can create some exciting concepts. Kaagaz is so dull in terms of writing and making that I can’t even say that it had a good intention. It’s a movie that forgot the fact that it should have worked around that good intention.

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Final Thoughts

Kaagaz is so dull in terms of writing and making that I can't even say that it had a good intention. It's a movie that forgot the fact that it should have worked around that good intention.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.