Humble Politician Nograj movie review: This Danish Sait starrer is a political satire like no other

Karthik Keramalu

Jan,12 2018 17:08:58 IST


Humble Politician Nograj's Nograj finally lands in theatres after entertaining the masses through Facebook live sessions and YouTube videos.

If there’s one Kannada movie that defines the landscape of satire and tomfoolery, it is this very picture since it captures all the right notes of what makes the audiences blow up in raucous laughter. For all the humbleness the title carries, Nograj (played by Danish Sait) stands a thousand meters away from the word and the sentiment it holds.

Danish Sait as Nograj in the film.

Nograj is the face of every corrupt politician in India. In the opening scene, he’s dreaming of allowing members of a large family to take shelter in his bungalow because they have no roof over their heads. The dream doesn’t end there. He goes on to become a kidney-donor. Have you ever heard of such a generous politician? Even if three out of ten politicians were like this, India would have entered the ranks of developed nations by now.

When Nograj wakes up, though, his true colors fall in line one after the other. The fact that Danish Sait has been giving glimpses into this vile character for a long time makes his performance readily lovable. We’ve gotten used to his fake moustache and wig, his mannerisms, and the way he mixes the spices of broken English into the dish of Kannada. So, whatever he says, instantly, turns funny.

How else do you explain the euphoria the meek phrase such as “Thammellarige, namaskara, dear friends” (Greetings to all of you, my dear friends) creates? That sentence, on its own legs, is bland, but when it comes from the mouth of the humble politician, it changes into something hilarious.

The actual humble man of the movie is Nograj’s assistant Monjunath (Vijay Chendoor). He respects all the orders he receives from his “Sir” and doesn’t cross any boundary. His charades aren’t over-the-top (the way Vijay played in Karvva) and he keeps his gestures to a minimum which makes room for Danish Sait’s Nograj to steal the thunder on-screen.

There’s a certain amount of quirkiness needed to remove the letter ‘a’ from Nagraj and Manjunath and add ‘o’ instead. In a moment of utter irritation, Arun Patil (Roger Narayan), a wannabe politician with a good heart, says, “Nagraj,” and his wife Rama (Sruthi Hariharan) corrects him. This type of light-hearted banter works alongside the variety of caricaturish humor that Nograj and his aides indulge in.

However, the inclusion of the goodness factor that Roger Narayan brings with him through his character puts a spoke in the wheel of Humble Politician Nograj as his presence slows down the film. We understand that the most corrupt corporator, aka Nograj, wants to become an MLA to earn more money and announce his unshakeable position in the circle of politicians. In a movie whose political party’s name is “One Big Party”, and whose symbol is a chameleon, signifying the changing nature of politicians, what business does the voice of sincerity – that appears in the soul of Arun Patil – have?

Kindness versus greed is a subject matter that has been dealt with in various art forms. It just isn’t the right fit in this laugh-a-minute marathon as the jokes die down whenever the focus shifts from Nograj to Arun Patil. And this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. In the same vein, Sumukhi Suresh looks out of place as Nograj’s wife. The fire she showed in the Amazon Prime series Pushpavalli is absent here. I’m not going to expect fireworks from her all the time. Nevertheless, her character, Lavanya, is a bit of a letdown. She doesn’t push the chair of wit forward much.

Filmmaker Saad Khan and his team, in spite of taking the road less travelled, have delivered a satire that’s full of candor. Watch how Nograj shows his love toward the Muslim folk (for votes), or how he subtly warns a homosexual man to not double-cross him. These are the kinds of things that are happening on a day-to-day basis in our country. Outside the movie halls, we can’t possibly put our heads back and throw our hands up in the air, in revelry, as the real world is scary; this movie is the next best deal

Published Date: Jan 12, 2018 17:08 PM | Updated Date: Jan 12, 2018 17:08 PM