Serious Men, now streaming on Netflix is the movie based on the book of the same name by Manu Joseph. Directed by Sudhir Mishra, with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in lead, the film is story of a street smart Dalit man, trying to make his son famous by projecting him as genius.
Serious Men, is a category with which Ayyan Mani (Nawazuddin) has classified all the upper caste, educated snooty men in. Mani is a Dalit man who is a bit educated and works as PA for a scientist Dr. Acharya (Nassar), who calls him an idiot, moron etc. Serious Men is a name given by Mani as a revenge for those insults.
Mani’s grandfather as per him died of a heat failure when someone joked to him that he has mistakenly boarded Brahmin’s compartment in a train. Since then Mani’s aim is to make sure that his son should be known by his talent not caste.
Mani wants his son Aadi (an excellent Aakshath Das) to study and become famous. Aadi who keeps talking about asteroids, solar system, with the knowledge way ahead of his age soon becomes famous as and every channel or newspaper wants to do his interview.
Soon it is disclosed that this is all a fraud which Mani is pulling, by making Aadi learn a few specific sentences and projecting him as a genius. Mani gets the papers of primary classes leaked and thus making Aadi top his classes.
Soon Aadi is talk of the town and a politician cum builder Keshav Bhau (Sanjay Narvekar) and his daughter Anuja (Shweta Basu Prasad) decide to use Aadi as the face of their new development project, to convince chawl residents to sell their land.
In a parallel plot, Mani gets Dr. Acharya fired from his job by leaking a fraud which Acharya was involved in. As fate plays, Dr Acharya learns about Aadi, but when he meets him at the school, he is very much convinced that the story of genius is all fake.
Finally Aadi is not able to take so much of stress, so is the case with Mani. Aadi keeps getting sick and stressed, making Mani reallize that he is doing Aadi no good by faking his genius.
Does Mani succeed in making his son a prodigy, was he able to save this whole drama from falling apart, and how he understands that he can’t make Aadi succeed this way is what Serious Men goes on to address.
Serious Men boasts of superlative performances from its seasoned artists. Nawazuddin (as usual) is at his best and plays the shrewd, streetsmart man with finesse. The role was tailor made for him and he has done full justice to it.
Nassar as irritated and arrogant Dr Archarya is excellent. Sanjay Narvekar as politician/builder is good and so is Shweta Basu Prasad as well educated, to be a politician.
Indira Tiwari as Oja (Mani’s wife) is too good. But the revelation has been the performance of Aakshath Nath as Aadi. He has played the fraud genius with full conviction and is the highlight of the movie.
Serious Men has a lot to be proud of. As the plot is based on a bestselling novel, the story and screenplay has been adapted beautifully doing full justice to the script.
Performances, as we have already mentioned are top notch and they do full justice to a tight script. The cinematography is also very good and captures the mood of the film perfectly.
Sudhir Mishra’s direction is excellent and he has made sure that the film has the entertainment quotient despite having an arty look, which really broadens its appeal to a wider audience.
Special mention to the scene when Nawaz takes his son to a talent show and he sees many children with different talents, his realisation that its just a fake genius story that he is making his son live. The scene though without dialogues is superbly crafted.
And then a special mention to the line which Aadi uses whenever he gets in trouble and doesnt know an answer to – I cannot deal with primitive minds like you
There are a few sequences, which are very conveniently done and don’t look that convincing.
Like Mani easily gets Acharya re-appointed at the post from which he was fired, or the way he communicates with Aadi via bluetooth device, are too convenient given the premise of the film.
Also the director could have cut on a few random expletives hurled, as they could have easily done without it, expanding the reach.
Serious Men is all seriousness is a very good attempt by Sudhir Mishra and after a few very average films the filmmaker is at his best.
With a good script, superlative performances and a good message, the film should be on your watch list this week.