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There is never a wrong time to incite or manipulate Everyman ire in India. Systemic rot makes small things in our lives difficult and dreary. Director Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali, his co-writer in Satyagaraha, prop their film on that very saleable idea. Obviously inspired by the mutinous Anna Hazare wave that gripped the country last year, they write a high-pitched, anti-establishment drama. Mob hysteria is black and white, and in a film, it can go terribly wrong unless real characters behind the hysteria are delineated with imagination. There are no real characters in Satyagraha, only simplistic, representative figures drumming up relentless noise.

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Amitabh Bachchan plays a Gandhian in the film

Jha is more a pamphleteer rather than a director here. Besides the blinkered view on the politics of the common man, he is surprisingly blind to some film-making basics. Lighting by cinematographer Sachin Krishn could suit a TV soap opera. Editing is slack. The production design of this film is so poor, that even if there are some weighty scenes and some snatches of moving performances, you are unlikely to notice them.

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Devgn ropes in Kapoor to help engineer a movement to free Bachchan

Satyagraha is a missed opportunity. By translating a phenomenon that captured the national imagination even fleetingly, it could have humanized the Anna brigade. Jha dumbs down, and does it artlessly.

Satyagraha released in theatres on Friday.

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