page contents

Ancient prejudice posing as a post-liberal narrative


Serious Men (Netflix)
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Aakshath Das, Indira Tiwari, Nassar, Sanjay Narvekar, Shweta Basu Prasad
Direction: Sudhir Mishra

Sudhir Mishra, director of the beloved Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003), has been taking pictures duds for some time. But with Serious Men he appears to have regained his kind, if not his sharp politics.


Serious Men is an entertaining, well-made movie that tells the story of Ayyan Mani, a Dalit man who resents being invisible, and when he’s seen he’s subjected to each day humiliations, profitable affords to transform, vote-bank politics. The movie’s plot is a few determined man’s determined makes an attempt to verify his youngster, born in a pool of fraud by a resort’s poolside, quantities to one thing. Except that the seemingly candy, benign story of Serious Men, which is rooted in actuality, is ring-fenced by a worldview that’s critically anti-Dalit.


While the movie is sympathetic to males like Mani, it units out to show him a lesson. Merit, Serious Men says, is all the pieces, it’s the nice equalizer, and never alternative. This karmic cycle of misdemeanours and comeuppance solely sucks Mani into its orbit, not equally fraudulent higher caste males.

Serious Men, based mostly on a novel of the identical title by Manu Joseph, opens with the posturing of an impatient, severe man who frowns and growls on the world. It appears to be in his means as he’s speeding about doing essential issues. Astro-physicist Aravind Acharya (Nassar) acts as if he’s on emergency responsibility to save lots of the world together with his discovery of alien microbes. They maintain solutions to humankind’s profound questions, he believes, and is within the pursuit of one other spherical of presidency funding for his spatial explorations.


Everyone round Acharya defers to him, assuming that what appears like gibberish to them are phrases of knowledge, for he’s a person of better data, superior mind and with a plan.

But Ayyan Mani (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a dalit Tamilian, sees by means of Acharya and intently watches how he fakes his means by means of the world. 

Mani is Acharya’s clerk, a la Massey Sahib, and is summoned to be shouted at for doing or not doing one thing, typically only for being.

Throughout the movie Mani addresses us immediately, sharing with us what it means to be invisible, how IQ will not be linked to social standing or caste, how posturing is energy, all of the whereas selecting up Acharya’s small gestures that sew collectively a VIP identification. It consists of Acharya leaning and whispering right into a feminine assistant’s ears throughout conferences. 


Mani watches how others worship at this altar of bullshit, and he desires a chunk of it.

He too desires to be like them, the intense males. And with folks decrease than him in stature, crafty and gumption, Mani tries out the identical pressing, intemperate manner, full with nonsensical chatter, irritability and fancy neck-ties. It works.  

But it’s too late for Mani. So all his hopes are pinned on his youngster. Oja (Indira Tiwari), Mani’s spouse, is oblivious to his venture.

Adi (Aakshath Das) looks as if a vivid child who’s shy and exhausting of listening to.

A convent college rejects him at first. But when, just a few years later, Adi is a hailed as a genius within the dalit chawl, referred to as “Abdul Kalam”, the college admits him. 


In class, Adi typically gazes out of the window, and when the instructor asks him what he’s pondering, he talks of photosynthesis for people, in regards to the “arrow of time”, and when probed additional, he snaps, “I can’t deal with primitive minds like you”.

Enter a father-daughter politician duo — Keshav (Sanjay Narvekar) and Anuja Dhavre (Shweta Basu Prasad) — who, impressed by his scientific data and the awe he conjures up within the dalit chawl, choose on Adi, and recruit him.  

They have an agenda. A high-rise housing advanced the place Mani’s dingy, rat-infested chawl squats.


Mani, who typically makes use of his caste to get his means, is greater than prepared. And all goes as per plan until the day when, Sayani, Adi’s schoolfriend, is being thrashed by her mom for doing badly in an examination and mendacity about it. 

Mani’s plan and Adi’s formidable status start to unravel. Exam papers had been purchased, and there have been a father’s instructive susurrations into his son’s ears.

As Mani’s life begins to spiral uncontrolled, affecting Adi essentially the most, he turns his sights on his boss, Acharya.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui is an distinctive actor who is ready to convey the machinations of his character’s thoughts even whereas holding nonetheless. As a determined father on a dogged pursuit of his and his son’s life amounting to one thing, he and little Aakshath Das maintain the movie collectively and are supported by a really robust ensemble of actors, together with Indira Tiwari, Nassar, Sanjay Narvekar and Shweta Basu Prasad.


Serious Men, tailored from a novel, credit 4 writers — Bhavesh Mandalia, Abhijeet Khuman, Niren Bhatt and Nikhil Nair.

The movie’s story is one half satire on important males who posture, and lesser males who imitate that posturing, and one half political pamphlet about advantage being supreme, about advantage trumping all, regardless of alternative.

Manu Joseph is a fantastic author however in Serious Men he betrays a moderately abhorrent worldview. 

Writers have a proper to inform no matter tales they wish to inform. But storytellers are like puppeteers who transfer their characters in sure methods, they determine what occurs to them, what life lesson we draw from them.


Though the satire of Serious Men is primarily pivoted on higher caste Acharya and the way he fools the world with gibberish and his nonsensical analysis, the movie by no means interrogates him. In reality, the movie redeems him by making him Adi and Mani’s saviour in the long run.

Mani, however, is enveloped in ambiguity. Even when most weak and narrating a narrative about his mom, we’re made to really feel it’s counterfeit.  

And on the finish, established order reigns for all, besides Mani and Adi. 

The outlier is distributed additional away from the facility centre, and the entire set-up appears to have been created to trump Mani, to show the Dalit father and son a lesson.


I’ve not learn Serious Men, however I learn someplace that Joseph claims kudos for daring to indicate a poor Dalit character as conniving.

There aren’t any literary bravely awards to be given out for displaying decrease caste characters as fraudulent, dishonest. That has been the higher caste’s narrative for ages about “neech log”. 

But if kudos are being doled out for reiterating higher caste prejudice about decrease castes, then they’re Joseph’s to say.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *