What do Kumar Mangalam Birla and Prahalad Agarwalla have in common?
Even the brightest of quizzers may find this a difficult one to answer. Therefore let me give you an important clue before you unnecessarily stretch your brains and imagination. Everyone knows Kumar Mangalam Birla as the chairman of the 40 Billion Dollar Aditya Birla Group and Ultratech Cement, one of their brands is the largest cement producer in India. Not many would perhaps know that Prahalad Agarwalla is the Chairman of Rupa and Company, a company listed on the Mumbai and other stock exchanges, which according to published records has the highest market share of knitted innerwear products (innerwear is an euphemism for underwear). Both the companies have extremely bold and innovative marketing campaigns, which few marketing pundits could have predicted to be such successful campaigns helping their brands to become market leaders. For example, how many marketing gurus would have dared to insist on an Angrezi brand name and using the technology platform to market a commodity like cement? And in the same vein, who could have predicted the success of Rupa as an innerwear brand, following the introduction with a series of ads which had the byline: Agar Rupa ka underwear pehnoge, toh Rupa kya pehenegi? Ultratech saw the potential in turning cement from a mere commodity to a branded item and according to one of Rupa’s senior executives, they saw a potential in their consumer moving away from wearing banians with “holes”!
In the light of the above, let me modify the quiz question a little bit hoping that this will not need that much amount of stretch: What do Kumar Mangalam Birla and Prahalad Agarwalla and Prakash Jha have in common? Or to make it even more simple: Is there a linkage between Ultratech Cement, Rupa innerwear and Praksh Jha’s new creation, SATYAGRAHA?
Stars in their own right in their own fields, Ultratech and Rupa occupy as much of screen space (though in the form of background banners or posters or hoardings) as do the real stars of SATYAGRAHA. Hats off to the brilliant marketing minds who have so brazenly thought of this platform (almost as brazenly as Manoj Bajpai who talks about return of investment in politics!) to give their products “star status”.
SATYAGRAHA has a laudable intention to project corruption as a deep rooted malaise, but fails miserably because of several reasons. Although the characters seem to be based on real life scenarios, the story line binding the characters is loosely bound. Wish the script writer had used Ultratech Cement to create a solid base. There are only two actors who seem to be oozing sincerity while playing their part, Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee. The rest act as though they themselves are not convinced about their characters and roles. Thus, when a lovely song is introduced against the brief 3 minute interlude of a romantic scene between Ajay Devgn and Kareena Kapoor (which sounds odd in a narrative of this kind), it actually gives us a respite from the boring happenings. And continuing with Bollywood’s new found affair with “slapping sequences” (Remember Ranjahana and Bhag Milkha Bhag?), the expression on the District Official’s face after he is slapped by Amitabh is worthy of mention in an otherwise trite series of performances. Even in Amitabh’s case, the role of someone who is idealistic in his principles and who are hurt by the apathy of the officials, has seen better performances by Amitabh himself in Mohabattein, Anupam Kher in Saraansh and Om Puri in Ardh Satya.
And Prakashji, merely having laudable topics and a large star cast do not make for an interesting movie. You have been a great movie maker in the past, like Shoojit Sircar and Nikhil Advani whose respective recent efforts in MADRAS CAFE and D-DAY are worthy of recall. Please go back to your Damul, Mrutyudand and Gangajal days!
And by way of clarification, this write-up has not been sponsored by Ultratech or by Rupa. And judging by its contents, it could not have been sponsored by Prakash Jha!
RATING; 2 out of 5
August 31, 2013