Manjhi – The Mountain Man, is loosely based on Dashrath Manjhi, who carved a path through a 360 Ft. long, 30 Ft. wide and 25 Ft. high hillock using only a hammer and chisel. The film shows Manjhi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) running away from the village to escape working for the brutal Mukhia (Tigmanshu Dhulia). He returns home after 7 years, after Government abolishes Untouchability, but the ground realities haven’t changed. He gets beaten up for hugging the son of the landlord (Pankaj Tripathi).
His love life blossoms with Phaguniya (Radhika Apte) who he was betrothed to in childhood itself. His short blissful married life is interrupted when Phaguniya slips while climbing the hills to bring Manjhi his lunch. She passes away leaving Manjhi heartbroken. Manjhi holds the mountains responsible for her death and in order to teach them a lesson, he starts cutting through them with a hammer.
The film essays his journey of 22 years to make the way through the mountains. Ketan Mehta includes other events that occur through those years and weaves them in the story, such as Naxalite movement and emergency.
The film received generally favorable reviews.
Shubra Gupta of Indian Express gave the film 2 out of 5 stars. She praises Nawazuddin’s performance –“Nawaz strains every sinew, and remains consistently watchable despite the shifts in tone. But even he cannot make the film soar.”
Sweta Kaushal of Hindustan Times gave 4 .5/ 5 rating. “With a spirited story and talented actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte, Mehta has ensured that the film is true to its hero.”, she said. “Nawazuddin is definitely the most crucial and impressive part of the movie He has made apt use of these details to highlight the politics of caste and class with remarked expertise.”
“The inspiring narrative, the powerful love story and hard-hitting performances make for a wonderful cinematic experience. Watch it for Siddiqui and Apte’s acting, watch it for Dashrath Manjhi’s empowering will power, watch it for the sheer realism with which Mehta has put it all together.”
Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV gave the film 3 out of 5 rating.
“In cinematic terms, the spectacle of a man engaged in an awe-inspiring but singularly drab pursuit can be repetitive. Not too infrequently, it is indeed monotonous”, he stated. “The script over-compensates by injecting high drama into the proceedings”.
Divya Pal from IBN Live gave the film 3/5, “While a simple, linear plot could have worked for the biopic, Mehta’s attempt at infusing unjustified drama takes away the impact”.
Sukanya Verma (rediff) gave the film two and half stars praising Nawazuddin – “Still Manjhi is watchable purely because of this actor’s grasp of a willful, persevering personality recognised by his passion not poverty. It’s a distinction Nawaz duly delivers, if not the film”.
Meena Iyer from Times Of India gave the film 3/5 rating, also praised Nawazuddin – “His portrayal of Manjhi is another feather in Nawaz’s cap. The graph he brings to his screen character– from a carefree lover to a burdened soul– is the stuff that separates actors from many cardboard cutouts, loosely referred to as stars”.
Rating : 3/5
Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Pankaj Tripathi, Ashraf Ul Haque, Tigmanshu Dhulia
Director: Ketan Mehta