‘KAAGAZ’ | 7 January, 2021

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Salman Khan Films and The Satish Kaushik Entertainment’s Kaagaz (UA) is a satire based on a real-life incident. Bharat Lal (Pankaj Tripathi) lives in a village of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, with wife Rukmani (M. Monal Gajjar) and their two children. He has a wedding band shop. One day, he realises to his horror that his paternal uncle and aunt in his ancestral village have bribed the clerk and declared him (Bharat Lal) dead, after which the plot of land, which is jointly owned by the family, is usurped by the uncle, aunt and their children. It becomes an ego issue for Bharat Lal who now makes it his mission to prove that he is not dead. But the system wants proof of his ‘alive’ status as he is a dead person on government records. How Bharat Lal achieves the almost impossible is what the drama is all about.

Satish Kaushik has conceptualised and written the story based on the true-life incident of Lal Bihari Mritak. The story is an eye-opener and very thought-provoking. Kaushik has made it entertaining by writing it as a satire so that the quotient of fun keeps the audience engaged. The screenplay has been penned by Imtiyaaz Hussain, with additional screenplay written by Ankur Suman and Shashank Khandelwal. The screenplay is so well written that the involvement of the viewers is ensured. Frankly, the unfolding drama also arrests the audience’s attention because nobody can guess what will unfold as the drama is unique. Of course, since the screenplay moves on a singular track and, in a sense, is technical, it would appeal mainly to the class audience. Also, the absence of the traditional hero and heroine will make the drama more acceptable to the class audience. Having said that, it must be added that the writers have remained true to the drama and have written an extremely engaging screenplay. The trio’s dialogues are extraordinary and often evoke a lot of laughter.

Pankaj Tripathi does cent per cent justice to the role of Bharat Lal. He acts with aplomb and makes his character so believable that watching him becomes a fine experience. His innocence and integrity come to the fore in the role which will be remembered for a long time. M. Monal Gajjar plays Bharat Lal’s wife, Rukmani, very well. She stands her own opposite Pankaj with a lovely performance. Satish Kaushik is wonderful as advocate Sadhoram Kevat. He entertains with his worldly-wise dialogues and anecdotes. Mita Vashisth is natural as politician Ashrafi Devi. Amar Upadhyay looks handsome and impresses a great deal as MLA Jaganpal. Brijendra Kala evokes laughter in a brief role as the judge. Vijay Kumar has his moments as the sarpanch. Neha Chauhan does a truly fine job as journalist Sonia. Garrvil Mohan lends good support as her partner, photographer Pablo. Dr. Shadan Ahmed is first-rate as Bharat Lal’s cunning paternal aunt. As his paternal uncle, Shri Prakesh Bajpei is effective. Susheel Bhountiyal makes his presence felt in the role of Lekhpal Bhoorey Singh. Amit Pathak (as Hari Lal), Pranay Narayan (as Devi Lal) and Seemant Kharwal (as Goonga) have their moments. Anju Gaur (as Hari Lal’s wife) and Mamta Pandit (as Devi Lal’s wife) provide very good support. Yogesh Kumar Shukla is fair as the bank manager. Nand Kumar (as Pitahmah) is adequate. Abhishek Tiwari (as Lekhpal Manoj Gupta), master Dhawal (as Sushil), Varun Tamta (as advocate Khushwaha) and Nawal Kishore Shukla (as Rukmani’s maternal uncle) lend very nice support. Others are adequate.

Satish Kaushik deserves kudos for not just narrating a rather difficult subject in an entertaining manner but also for extracting good work from out of his actors and for making such a thought-provoking film with such clarity of thought. He has made a truly contemporary film without compromises. The ambience, language, characters are all very real. Music (Pravesh Mallick, Rahul Jain and Ceazer) is in perfect synch with the mood of the film. The songs may not be very popular but they come as a refreshing change in the film because of their earthy tunes. Lyrics (Rashmi Virag, Aseem, Kunaal Verma, Lal Bihari Mritak and Shweta Raj) are lovely. Ahmed Khan’s choreography is understated, as required. Srijan Vinay Vaishnav’s background music is excellent. Arkodeb Mukherjee’s cinematography is nice. Amar Shetty’s action scenes are natural. Production designing (Jayant Deshmukh and Saurabh Kaushik) is of a fine standard. Sanjay Verma’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Kaagaz is a well-written, well-made and well-enacted satire which will win acclaim. It will appeal more to the classes and hence it is good that it is being premiered on a streaming platform (with simultaneous release in select cinemas of Uttar Pradesh).

Released on 7-1-’21 on Zee5 and in select cinemas of Uttar Pradesh. Publicity: below the mark.