Now this one’s a high voltage socio-political drama based on one of the most controversial policies of caste based ‘reservations’ in government jobs and educational institutions. Like the majority of Jha's films, it takes on issues about the society and political affairs of India.
Aarakshan is the story of Prabhakar Anand (Amitabh Bachchan), the legendary idealistic principal of a college that he has single-handedly turned into the state's best. It is the story of his loyal disciple, Deepak Kumar (Saif Ali Khan) who will do anything for his Sir. Of Deepak's love for Prabhakar's daughter, Poorbi (Deepika Padukone), of his friendship with Sushant (Prateik). It is the story of their love, their lively friendship, their zest for life, and of their dreams for the future.
Centered on one of the most controversial issues of recent years, with the Supreme Court's order on ‘reservations’, the story suddenly becomes a roller-coaster ride of high drama, conflict, and rebellion, which tests their love and friendship for one another, and their loyalty to Prabhakar Anand.
The story is indeed novel and also has a noble message but the screenplay by Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali is slow paced and lethargic. Although there are several dramatic moments in the film in both the halves, it leaves a lot to be desired mainly because the film gets verbose and is devoid of any entertainment or relief.
Performance wise, it is a tailor made role for Amitabh Bachchan and his Gandhian act is just perfect. Not to mention his acting is an ‘institution’ by itself. Saif Ali Khan surprises with a solid portrayal of his character. He lives every bit of it and handles a difficult role with such remarkable ease. Deepika plays her role with a natural flair. She is very likeable in her part. Prateik needs to loosen up a lot and his voice modulation is also weak. Manoj Bajpayee puts up a brilliant villainous act and impresses as usual. Tanvi Azmi is first rate. Hema Malini in a guest appearance is fair.
Of the supporting cast, Yashpal Sharma, Saurabh Shukla and Darshan Jariwala stand out while Chetan Pandit, Mukesh Tiwari and Vinay Apte do their jobs sincerely.
Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is functional with only one song ‘Achcha Lagta Hai’ of hummable quality. Lyrics by Prasoon Joshi are meaningful. Cinematography by Sachin Krishnan is of top order while action by Prem Sharma is raw and real. Background music by Wayne Sharp adds life to the dramatic scenes. Art by Jayant Deshmukh is authentic. Choreography by Jayesh Pradhan passes muster. Editing by Santosh Mandal could have been much tighter as the film is too long, dreary and has too many loose ends.
To sum it up, Aarakshan is a film which has its heart at the right place. This film deserves to be seen, so 'reserve' your seat now!