John, Manoj will leave you whistling and clapping with their acts
Clearly, director Milap Milan Zaveri is unapologetic and unabashed about treating us to his revamped version of an 80s-styled pot-boiler of a cat and mouse chase between a vigilante on the loose and an honest, upright policeman. ‘Satyameva Jayate’ is the director’s second feature film after ‘Mastizaade’ that hit the screens in 2016.
Vir (John Abraham) is an artiste during the day and a serial killer at night, who goes about setting corrupt police officers ablaze, to avenge a personal tragedy. The thorn in his path, you ask, is DCP Shivansh Rathod (Manoj Bajpayee), a straight-laced, khadi-clad officer who once again walks away with the best lines in the film. Newcomer Aisha Sharma is romantically paired opposite Abraham as Shikha, a vet and a social worker, and Amruta Khanvilkar (who was brilliant in ‘Raazi’) is cast as Shivansh’s wife Sarita.
In all honesty, there is nothing novel about the plot that you haven’t encountered before. But the writing by Zaveri is engaging enough to keep audiences invested even when the film starts seeming like a slog, post intermission. There is much to be appreciated about Zaveri the writer than the director. Some of the dialogues seem dated but a few are likely to become everyday lingo among the single-screen audiences. Nigam Bomzan’s cinematography is competent but replete with more than a dozen close-ups that disturb the eye. Priya Suhas’ production design is on-point, lending required authenticity. Amin Khatib and Ravi Verma’s action makes the maximum impact although the killings picturised are far too gory that they do require adult supervision. The editing by Maahir Zaveri could have been better. The soundtrack of the film is likely to resonate with the audience, given the chartbuster status acquired by ‘Dilbar’ and ‘Paniyon Sa’.
Speaking of the performances, it’s to the credit of Bajpayee and Abraham who keep the proceedings going by infusing tension and swagger each time they face off each other, on-screen. It’s a delight to see John flesh out an action-packed performance after his restrained act in ‘Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran’, earlier this year. Manoj, who was frankly wasted in ‘Aiyaary’, delivers a commendable performance in ‘Satyameva Jayate’. Since this is supposedly a male-dominant film, it would be unfair to rate the ladies, given their limited screen presence. But both Aisha and Amruta make their presence felt in the film’s lighter moments. Manish Chaudhary as ACP Manish Shukla offers a hammy act, which isn’t expected from an actor of his calibre. Chetan Pandit leaves a lasting impression as John’s father.
If you belong to the endangered lot of cinema lovers who prefer content over entertainment, then ‘Satyameva Jayate’ is not for you. It’s for the connoisseurs who like their old wine bottled anew.