Serious Men Review
Sudhir Mishra made the Hindi-language comedy-drama film Serious Men. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the lead in this version of Manu Joseph's book of the same name. Bombay Fables and Cineraas Entertainment are the movie's producers. On October 2, 2020, Netflix made it available. The movie, which examines issues of class, caste, and prejudice, serves as a reminder of the difficulties Dalits in India confront.
The movie's main character is Ayyan Mani, a middle-aged man who works as an astronomer's assistant at Mumbai's National Institute of Fundamental Research. He, his wife, and his son all reside in a slum. Ayyan, angry by his living circumstances, creates a ridiculous tale about his ten-year-old son Adi being a science genius.
Despite being a bright boy, Adi is not a genius. Using a Bluetooth hearing device, Ayyan instructs the youngster on what to say and do in public and gives him the appropriate responses. Ayyan's plan is successful, and Adi quickly gains local popularity. He gets asked to speak at colleges and institutions and has even been seen on public television.
A local politician notices Ayyan's success and believes Adi may be helpful to his party. He will offer him substantial money if Ayyan can convince Adi to support the politician's party in the next elections. Ayyan nods in agreement but quickly realizes his mistake.
The politician's rivals are anxious to expose Ayyan's lie, and they do it quickly. Ayyan is detained, and Adi is humiliated. The police take away Ayyan and Adi at the end of the movie.
Reviews from Different Platforms
Critic's Rating: 3.5/5
In the opening scene, Mani Senior uses the public statement, "...zindagi bhi aisi hai, complex!" to figure out life in Mumbai's nameless, dark, and dimly lighted chawl. The phrase "Aadmi Matlab hi paida hota hain, marta bhi matlab hi hai" sets off a chain of events, including complete insanity, unrestrained greed, and simple manipulation and deception. A dad from a marginalized family who has been through a lot in life and wants his son to have a better chance at success is a stereotype that is all too often. The manner the story told in Sudhir Mishra's "Serious Men" makes it unique. It is both outrageous and surprisingly subtle. The narrative also touches on the frequency of "pleas" to convert to Christianity for a better life, the caste card frequently used within the oppressed populations, and the atrocities experienced by the Dalit community in India. The fact that Mishra infused this message with the foil of sarcasm wrapped around it prevents anyone from being offended, even though it is bold and mocking.
Additionally, Nawazuddin Siddiqui has sprinkled his personality throughout the writing, and the actor is skilled at navigating difficult conditions without offending anyone. Speaking of which, the lungi-clad actor who plays Mani in this social critique inhabits him like a long-lost brother. While the dialogue may be easily forgotten, his acting skills are evident in how he reacts in the breakdown scenes. Even at such a young age, the child genius Adi, nicknamed Aakshath Das, stands shoulder to shoulder with Siddiqui, and their twisted accord is evident. He is an arrogant young man sharing the ultimate secret with his father.
Anuja, played by Shweta Basu Prasad, who has a deformed leg, burns, and a Carnegie Mellon degree, represents discrimination in this film. However, her position still needs to be clarified, and it is wrong not to utilize a superb actor to the fullest extent possible. Veteran actors Nassar and Sanjay Narvekar, who play the local politician and Anuja's father, respectively, do not have much to do in the movie other than to protect their self-interests, which they do expertly.
This movie is full of shocks and frequently leaves one scratching their heads, despite the twists and turns being somewhat predictable but still entertaining. Thankfully, cinematographer Alexander Surkala catches the flavor of Mumbai and its seedy lanes while sometimes contrasting the tall buildings with filthy conditions. Karel Antonn's music has that timeless deep, artistic ring that is perfect for a film seeking to illustrate life's greatest ironies. However, as the story ends, the narrative and the music veer off course and get loud and dramatic.
In "Serious Men," the simple men of our society are made fun of. While the movie reasonably succeeds in highlighting the clash between the rich and the poor, it needs to bring to a satisfying conclusion what should have been a meaningful social conversation. Mishra overemphasized Siddiqui's talk about respect when he remarked, "Public jisko samajhti nahin hain, usko salaam karti hain; respect karti hain."
Nawazuddin Siddiqui has now starred in three successful Netflix films. One of the year's best films is Sudhir Mishra's newest, a witty parody of him. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, an actor who consistently produces excellent content for the streamer, deserves more attention than Radhika Apte, whom Netflix India has been busy trying to present as some icon. After Sacred Games and Raat Akeli Hai, Serious Men gives the actor a hat-trick of Netflix successes.
Based on a Manu Joseph novel, the movie centers on Ayyan Mani, a Dalit who works as a Brahmin scientist's assistant. After being labeled "moron" and "imbecile" for his whole life, he risks the world to vent his anger. By convincing everyone that his 10-year-old kid is a genius, Ayyan starts on a path toward upward social mobility.
It's remarkable to see how, since 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro' in 1983, Sudhir Mishra's perspective of the average person has evolved. The movie's two main characters were naive do-gooders with modest goals, but in the forty years since then, the average man has grown angry and deserves an equally angry movie.
Ayyan is a challenging person. He has been systematically oppressed by a country that would prefer he stay at his socio-economic level, so on the one hand, his rage is legitimate; nevertheless, on the other, it isn't easy to like him. In many respects, Serious Men is a movie about a prison break. Ayyan is imprisoned in Mumbai's symbolic jail, its imposing buildings enclosing his chawl-like bars on a cell.
Serious Men would not have succeeded if there had not been a general outrage against the system. As hilarious as the movie is and as strangely entertaining to watch as Ayyan's ideas are, Serious Men would not have worked. It is a film that portrays life in India in the year 2020. It's a timepiece that captures the country's current mood, like many humorous films made in the years following the Emergency.
One of the very few occasions when it looks as though every department, including costumes, sound, and lighting, is in a jazz-like rhythm occurs in this stunning movie. It is odd, given that the movie also explores how everyone in modern society seems to spend time in echo chambers. However, Ayyan understands that the deck is stacked against him. Men like Ayyan face obstacles from society at every turn, almost purposefully. Ayyan concludes that he must thus use shortcuts. Why must he submit to a system's norms that neither appreciates him nor his son?
While other famous actors brag about undergoing six-month training camps and physical changes, Nawaz seamlessly transitions into his roles without changing his haircut.
In addition to criticizing the malfunctioning Indian educational system and its repetitive curriculum mandates, Serious Men exposes the long-standing Indian practice of parents projecting their unfulfilled goals onto their offspring. After a while, it becomes apparent that Ayyan isn't carrying out his scam for his son's future but rather to express his hatred. Walking the tightrope is challenging. After one mistake, Ayyan is beyond forgiveness.
Ayyan preaches to his wife in an early scene that it takes four generations for a man to reach the top of the social scale. She is a member of the second generation, or "2G," as he refers to them. This generation is incapable of enjoying themselves. Their third-generation successor will be well-educated and able to contemplate life's grander issues, such as why particular condoms have dots on them. Additionally, his offspring, Ayyan's grandchild, won't have anything to work for or even need to work. However, Mishra and his four writers make only a few mistakes. Serious Men is razor-sharp from beginning to end in a field that sometimes struggles to generate tonally consistent pictures and frequently romanticizes poverty.
Hit or Flop
The movie, irrespective of its fantastic cinematography and direction, failed to meet up to expectations and proved to be a flopped venture.