Satyagraha starring Amitabh, Kareena Kapoor, Ajay Devgan, Arjun Rampal and Manoj Bajpai had raised a lot of hope and expectations that it would awaken the Indian masses to change the political system. Prakash Jha instead ends up serving a Bollywood version of Satyagraha where the billboards extolling the brands have a better chance of being noticed than the histrionics of Amitabh who fails to impress.
Perhaps he is not to blame, but the story and screenplay are. It is a glamorous version of Anna Hazare’s campaign shot in an unknown town Ambikapur that catches the fancy of all Facebook and Twitter Indians across the country. The crowd in the protests are young rock stars that belt out a ‘Janta Rocks’ number that looks so anachronistic with Amitabh’s Gandhi-like demeanour and the rural setting. Ajay Devgan, an aspiring businessman, throws away his fortune to fight for the rights of the villagers against a corrupt district administration controlled by the MLA Manoj Bajpai. Arjun Rampal has no vocation except to help people in crisis and apparently without any political ambition. Kareen Kapoor a fiesty TV reporter important enough to accompany the Prime Minister, whiles away time covering the Satyagraha and falling in love with Ajay. Manoj Bajpai as the wily politician is the only saving grace who despite very few dialogues holds your attention with his facial expressions and dialogue delivery.
The end is a mess and you hope that the title ‘Satyagraha’ and the stars were not put to such a waste, not just of your time, but also the opportunity to really make a difference.