NOBLEMEN (English) | 29 June, 2019

Sa Re Ga Ma and Yoodlee Films’ Noblemen (English; A) is about the menace of ragging and bullying.

Shay (Ali Haji) studies in school and stays in boarding. He hates sports but is excellent in dramatics because of which the drama teacher, Murali (Kunal Kapoor), selects him for an important role in the staging of Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice.

Some senior students hate Shay because they don’t find him man enough to be one among them. They taunt him all the time and even ques­tion his sexual orientation. Leading the pack of bullies is Arjun (Mohommad Ali Mir). Baadal (Shaan Grover), another bully, wants to play the role for which Shay is selected. An extremely jealous Baadal can’t believe that a junior has been chosen when he was so keen on essaying the part. Baadal keeps threatening Shay to quit but there’s a reason why Shay is hell-bent on participating in the stage-play: his wheelchair-bound mother (Soni Raz­dan), who will soon be able to walk again, wants to visit his school and see him perform on stage no sooner she is able to stand on her feet.

Anyway, Arjun, Baadal and a couple of other seniors first humiliate Shay’s best friend, Ganesh (Hardik Thakkar), by parading him naked in the hostel. They then kill Shay’s pet bird. Finally, they gangrape Shay but the petrified Shay dare not complain against the bullies for fear of more physical and mental torture.

Meanwhile, an encounter with the affable drama teacher leaves Shay feeling miserable.

What happens thereafter? Does Shay muster courage to complain against the seniors who had ragged him? Does he take part in the stage-play? Why did he feel miserable when he had met drama teacher Murali? Are the bullies punished?

Sunil Drego, Sonia Bahl and Vandana Kataria have written an intense screenplay based on an uncredited but well-intentioned story. The screenplay is fast-paced but it does get re­petitive. It is also very depressing as there are no moments of joy in the drama. The pitiable state in which Shay and Ganesh find themselves saddens the audience. Yes, the film tackles a problem which has defied solution but seeing that problem un­fold on the screen in a heart-wrenching drama may not be a person’s idea of entertainment. The trio’s dialogues are realistic and often hard-hitting. A lot of swear words have been cleared by the CBFC.

Ali Haji is fairly good as Shay. Kunal Kapoor gives a very fine account of himself in the role of drama teacher Murali. Muskaan Jaferi is natural as Pia. Hardik Thakkar leaves a mark as Ganesh. Mohommad Ali Mir makes his presence beautifully felt as Arjun. Shaan Grover is effective in the role of Baadal. Soni Razdan has her mom­ents in a brief role as Shay’s mother. M.K. Raina lends very able support as the school headmaster. Ivan Rod­rigues is good as the deputy headmaster. Others lend the necessary support.

Vandana Kataria’s direction is sensitive. She impresses with her narration in her maiden attempt at direction. Music (Shri Sriram and K.C. Loy) and lyrics (K.C. Loy) are okay. Rama­nuj Dutta’s camerawork is impactful. Parvez Shaikh’s action scenes and stunts are realistic. Anasuya Sengupta’s production designing is of a fine standard. Simranjeet Malhotra’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, despite addressing a burning issue, Noblemen will not do much at the ticket windows becau­se it is dark, depressing and devoid of entertainment. It will find appreciation in the festival circuit and among critics.

Released on 28-6-’19 at PVR Icon Lower Parel (daily 1 show) and other cinemas of Bombay thru PVR Vkaao. Publicity & opening: weak.