Pranaam movie review: This Rajeev Khandelwal film is unimaginative, and populated with nondescript songs

Udita Jhunjhunwala

Aug 09, 2019 09:43:27 IST


Language: Hindi

This 119 minute-long crime drama opens with a man in a blood-soaked white shirt stumbling around in the dark till he reaches the doors of a modest home. The beginning of writer-director Sanjiv Jaiswal’s film is also the end. The rest of the story is told as a flashback. In happier times, Ajay (Rajeev Khandelwal) was studying for his Indian Administrative Service (IAS) exams. His father, an unskilled worker employed at the local government office, harboured dreams of his son one day becoming a Collector.

 Pranaam movie review: This Rajeev Khandelwal film is unimaginative, and populated with nondescript songs

Rajiv Khandelwal in a still from Pranaam. YouTube

Ajay’s chant is to make his father’s dream come true. However, one is not sure what Ajay’s dream is. He lives in the hostel and studies with his friend Manjari (Samiksha Singh). They take private coaching from the head of the college (Vikram Gokhale), who is also the man setting the entrance exam papers.

Like Why Cheat India and Super 30, the Lucknow-set Pranaam too uses exam paper theft and leaks, and the economy around that, as a pivot. When a chance encounter results in a battle, Ajay finds himself wrongly implicated, and caught in tightening web of lies and corruption. 

Abhimanyu Singh plays a student leader at Lucknow University, and one of the antagonists in charge of the leak mafia. Imagining Abhimanyu Singh, Rajeev Khandelwal and Samiksha Singh as students is a tall order. 

Events around Ajay unfold in a chaotic manner. His life hurtles from one bad decision to another while Manjari whimpers, and watches from the sidelines. Ajay’s close friends and father are also affected. 

Atul Kulkarni plays the creepy inspector in charge of this case, but you can be sure justice is the farthest thing from his mind. This inspector comes with a list of annoying characteristics one can pick from: his addiction to tobacco or the fact that he drops the packaging to the ground after he has consumed it or the way in which he constantly recounts his father’s teachings like mottos for life. When he is finally shut up by his senior, it is as if the officer read the audience’s mind.

Another character who resorts to sermonising, when he should be offering firm advice, is the professor. Seeing no escape from this entrapment, when Ajay comes to his mentor, presumably for guidance, the professor recites lines in Sanskrit, and asks Ajay to solve the riddle.

Pranaam is unimaginative filmmaking, populated with nondescript songs. The actors, though miscast, do make some sincere efforts to be convincing. But finally, the only revelation is the significance of the movie title. Ajay’s biography, that charts his journey from an IAS officer in-the-making to an infamous don, is called Pranaam.

Rating: *1/2

Updated Date: Aug 09, 2019 09:47:20 IST