Critic’s Rating : / 5
Hindutva Chapter One – Main Hindu Hoon Movie Review : A simplified take on a complex issue
Review: Bharat (Aashiesh Sharma) and Sameer (Ankit Raj) are childhood buddies. As their names suggest, Bharat is a Hindu while Sameer is Muslim, but they have grown up in harmony with a history of familial bonding that has stood the test of time. But as they reach college, Sameer is swayed by the intense hatred fed into him by some corrupt leaders and starts running for Presidency of the student union in the college. He is backed by a few like-minded students that includes his girlfriend Sapna (Sonarika Bhadoria), who is equally vocal about her views and feels that the minorities get a raw deal in the country among many other issues. Bharat on the other hand is the saffron-loving religious youngster, who doesn’t believe in the cause that Sameer and Sapna are fighting for. One of his videos where he is chiding them for being divisive and toxic goes viral and is offered to run for Presidency by a staunch right-wing leader Krishnakant Bhalerao (Govind Namdeo). Reluctant at first, Bharat throws his hat in the ring after he is encouraged by his father (Anup Jalota) and given some gyan by his Guru Maa (Deepika Chikhalia). His resolve to fight the elections becomes stronger when he realises that his former best friend Sameer is now completely radicalised and won’t back down despite repeated attempts to reason with him. This sets the tone for a massive conflict between the two friends, who represent the warring ideologies and religiously motivated politics that is dividing the youth of the nation.
Writer-Director Karan Razdan tries to portray a balanced narrative but like many Bollywood films, he ends up stereotyping members of a particular community, who are shown as the obvious villains. Of course, there are a few good men and women, but the ratio is way too skewed against them.
The two leading men Aashiesh Sharma and Ankit Raj put up decent performances in their respective roles. Sonarika Bhadoria looks glam and performs well within the limited scope of her character. Veteran television actor Deepika Chikhalia, singer Anup Jalota and Govind Namdeo play stereotypical characters that depict a certain type of people from within a community.
The film is shot in some of the most beautiful and mountainous locations of North India and the production values are above average. However, the overall writing of the film is way too simplified and pedestrian for an issue that is complex and layered. Karan Razdan doesn’t delve deeper into his subject or give us any real insight into the matter. Important topics such as CAA and Article 370 are taken as backdrops for the conflict but there is no profound subtext to it. The film’s overall narrative is coloured in hyper nationalism and seems like a knee-jerk reaction to some of the most significant recent developments.
Short of being a propaganda film, it’s clear what message writer-director Karan Razdan wants to give here. While his leading men represent the youth of the country, and the climax makes up for some of the obvious flaws, we can’t say that the film entirely entertains. And the title evidently tips the balance even before you delve too deep.