Satyamev Jayate: A few whistles for vigilante justice (Reviews)

Deepa Gahlot
Friday, 17 August 2018

SATYAMEV JAYATE
Director: Milap Milan Zaveri
Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, John Abraham, Manish Chaudhary, Aarti Sharma and others
Rating: * *

A corrupt cop has two front teeth made of gold, and aspires to convert all 32. He says this as he thrashes an innocent Muslim man, as his mother prays outside the police station. A man in police uniform walks into the station, sets the cop ablaze and walks out, without anyone noticing!

Satyamev Jayate is that kind of film — picking the worst excesses of ’80s potboilers and tacking them on to a film in 2018, when one hoped mainstream cinema was improving. 

When Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, heck, even Suniel Shetty did those conveyor belt revenge dramas and shouted inanities like “kanoon apne haath mein mat lo”, the frontbenchers cheered. When Manoj Bajpayee and John Abraham distort their faces and shout, they look phony.

Veer (Abraham), an artist and beach-cleaning do-gooder by day, captures corrupt cops in his free time, gives them a sermon and sets them alight. He also makes charcoal drawings of their agonised faces! But he must have time to go to the gym, because he rips apart a tyre with his arms; later in the film he goes bare-bodied to whip himself into a Muharram frenzy.

DCP Shivansh (Bajpayee — not his kind of film) is summoned, because he is smart and honest. All he figures out is that the serial pyromaniac is picking on cops from stations the names of which begin with the letters in Satyamev Jayate (S for Santacruz, A for Andheri, T for Thane and so on…). They probably never watched CID on TV, or they would have known the advances made in forensic science. Veer leaves finger prints and probably DNA all over the crime scene, and the supercop Shivansh just yells at him over the phone. Any regular Hindi film viewer would guess at the twists way before they arrive.

The film is idiotic in the extreme — it is possible that Milap Milan Zaveri (of Masti and Kya Kool Hain Hum infamy) intended to pay homage to Bollywood’s own B-movies. If so, he could still have gone easy on the horrific violence. He could have added some humour, and dropped the totally pointless item song.

However, it is also sadly true that a film like this catches the mood of the times, when people have lost faith in the law. At a few points in the film, even the cops feel that vigilante justice is the way to go.

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