03 Oct 2020: 'Serious Men' review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui headlines this sharp satire
Serious Men is about all of us.
It is about the aspirations and the consequent desperation that resides in us, and the limits they push us to.
The Netflix film, directed by Sudhir Mishra, is an engrossing affair, but more importantly, it becomes a sharp and biting satire on modern-day India that wants to achieve, uncompromisingly.
Here's our review.
Plot: Nawazuddin plays a middle-aged, lower-caste man
Nawazuddin plays Ayyan Mani, a middle-aged Dalit man.
He works as an assistant to an upper-caste, renowned space scientist Dr. Arvind Acharya (Nassar) at the prestigious National Institute of Fundamental Research.
He lives in a Mumbai chawl with his wife (Indira Tiwari) and son (Aakshath Das).
At work, he gets the chiding of his arrogant boss, the likes of whom he calls, "Serious Men."
Plot: He builds an outrageous story to climb up societal ranks
Ayyan is street-smart, pragmatic and dangerously ambitious.
He believes that to climb up the societal ranks, it takes four generations to grind.
But he wishes to bypass the process. For that, he orchestrates a wild story that his 10-year-old son, Adi is a genius.
From smuggling primary exam papers to threatening his son's classmates, he'd go to any limit to keep his lie afloat.
Details: 'Serious Men' is engrossing and entertaining
Transforming a book like Serious Men (by journalist Manu Joseph) to the screen was no easy task.
But, the subtleties and the sharpness of the story get the much-needed support from a thoughtful and mature screenplay by Bhavesh Mandalia.
The result is Serious Men, the film, an engrossing tale sticks to the narrative and keeps you wondering what the next scene might bring.
Reflection: The film is a reflection of us all
Why Serious Men makes a good satire is because it not only brings out the dilemmas and desperation of a systemically underprivileged and cornered man, but most of them present around him.
Adi's genius, fake or otherwise, becomes a mere tool for profit-making for one and all. While politicians look to earn votes in his name, TV anchors celebrate him to "sell" the story.
Performance: 'Serious Men' depends heavily on Nawazuddin
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the heart and mind of Serious Men.
His infectious smartness and manipulative charms make you want to believe in his onscreen fraud, even though you know all along what he has been cooking.
He casts a spell on those sharing the screen, and on all of us watching. The film depends heavily on his single-handed performance.
Final word: To watch or not to watch?
Thanks to Nawazuddin's committed performance, backed by a brilliant support cast and excellent writing, Serious Men rarely has a dull moment.
Not only is it captivating and entertaining, it also has a good message or two to spare.
In fact, it can safely be called one of the best movies of the year.
Final rating: 4/5 stars.