Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Mrunal Thakur, Pankaj Tripathi
Director: Vikas Bahl
“Raja ka beta raja nahi banega, Raja wahi banega jo haqdar hoga.”
The aforementioned line from the film is the peg that Super 30 hangs on. Based on mathematician Anand Kumar’s struggles in setting up Super 30, an institute for coaching underprivileged children for IIT entrance exams, the film puts on display, Kumar’s valiant attempts to alter grassroot reality. Most certainly, it is the perfect India-shining story to spotlight and the makers put in a sincere effort.
It starts off as the ultimate small-town-India-fairy-tale. The son of a postman in Bihar, Kumar, with his flair and passion for numbers, makes it to UK’s Mathematical Spectrum and The Mathematical Gazette and subsequently even secures an admission offer to the coveted Cambridge University! But like all fairy tales, Kumar’s story too has its share of evil villains that rudely obstruct the realization of his dreams. Super 30, the film, captures Kumar’s remarkable journey, warts and all.
Writer Sanjeev Dutta picks the highlights of Kumar’s life and gives us a classic underdog story that follows the prescribed trajectory--protagonist’s humble underprivileged beginnings, insurmountable odds he is faced with and eventually, the hard-fought victory. The director and writer duo do well in not merely highlighting Anand Kumar’s success story, but focusing instead on Kumar’s steadfast resolve in making higher education accessible to the underprivileged children of our society.
Connecting the dots of this feel-good story and filling in the colours is actor Hrithik Roshan along with a talented ensemble of actors. I was unsure if Roshan with his famed Greek-God looks would be able to blend into an aam-aadmi role convincingly but to his credit, he does. Roshan delivers on the promise with sincerity and turns in an admirable performance –earthy and real. As for the accent, being a bona fide Bihari myself, I am likely to nitpick, but it would be fair to say that for the most part, it lands on the right spot. It helps that the ensemble cast around Roshan is pitch-perfect in its grasp of dialects and nuances. The old dependable Pankaj Tripathi as the grubby politician despite his brief appearance is once again a delight to watch on screen. Mrunal Thakur as his love interest, Aditya Srivastav as Lallan Singh, Virendra Saxena as Kumar’s father Ishwar and Nandish Sandhu as his brother Pranav Kumar make for a good supporting cast.
Education, India’s only hope and route to a better life, remains the privilege of a few, something the film questions and challenges. A particular scene that chronicles this with great sensitivity the disparity and class divide in Super 30 is one where Kumar’s rag-tag army of Hindi-medium students faces the English-speaking students in a unique bid to shore up their confidence and prepare for the tough competition ahead of them.
That director Vikas Bahl despite having superstar Hrithik Roshan in his cast steers away from giving Super 30 a filmi touch, opts instead for presenting acts of integrity and courage as they occur in life, is laudable. Like the instance when Kumar (Hrithik Roshan) in order to bring home the bacon has to resort to selling papads on a bicycle. Or, when he quietly lets go the love of his life for fulfilling a self-imposed duty. The film is certainly better off in choosing realistic heroism over the superheroism that Hindi cinema is so accustomed to.
After all, as the famous saying goes—“Not all superheroes wear capes.” Super 30 is the story of one such.
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