Abhishek Bachchan starrer Dasvi was released in OTT yesterday. With a 7 plus rating, the film is one of those rare comedies with social messaging that can be watched with your whole family, yes even with your kids. This is significant for parents like me, who couldn’t even watch Sharmaji Namkeen with her child, simply because one random (and unnecessary) make-out scene found its way into the film. I would have celebrated Dasvi more if only its makers had put more effort into the film’s script and in carving out its two crucial female characters.
Directed by debutant Tushar Jalota (fun trivia – he is the son of popular bhajan singer Anup Jalota), the film revolves around a jailed politician’s quest to crack the 10th board exam – an education milestone for every person in the country. Chief Minister of fictitious state Harit Pradesh, Ganga Ram Chaudhary (Bachchan) is jailed due to his involvement in a scam concerning the recruitment of teachers. To ensure that his government runs smoothly, Ganga passes the power to his wife Bimla (Nimrat Kaur) – a politically ignorant housewife who develops a weakness for power.
When a new superintendent IPS officer Jyoti Deswal takes charge of the prison, Ganga’s breezy jail stay turns into a nightmare. One thing leads to another, and when Deswal berates him for being uneducated, Ganga pledges to clear the exam or else never return to power as the state’s chief minister. The inmates join forces to help Ganga clear his exams and after discovering that the exiled politician is being manipulated by his wife, to ensure that she has the reigns of Harit Pradesh, Deswal steps in to help him out as well. Will Ganga clear the exam or will his wife manage to defeat him on both political and personal fronts? Will education eventually change the corrupt politician’s mindset and motivate him to become a better leader? Watch the film to know more.
Dasvi could have been a great entertainer that you would recommend to your peers and relatives, but instead, it ends up being just another film that you can let play in the background, while you have dinner with your family. While family viewing is a plus point, it never becomes a film that commands your undivided attention or a comedy that leaves you in splits.
One of the biggest problems with the film is its script which shows little to no interest in building the world and the characters that inhabit it. You never feel invested in Ganga’s whim to clear the exam for the 10th standard. His struggle with Hindi as a subject too is unconvincing. A man who cannot even write his name has difficulty recognising akshars and is shown reading poems towards the end and writing full-length essays. How long did Ganga have to master the language? We never find out.
The film also meets the same half-hearted treatment to its two stellar women characters. Nimrat Kaur is a delight to watch as the scheming Bimla Devi. She owns every scene and every frame that she is in. But it seems surreal when Bimla becomes an expert politician despite no prior experience in the field overnight. What kind of relationship did she share with her husband when he was not in jail? Why does she glow, evolve and even get a makeover in his absence – what kept her from doing so when Ganga was out of prison? Even towards the end, Bimla’s reaction and demeanour to the exam and election result make no sense and have no context.
Similarly, little is done to humanise Jyoti Deswal. Yami Gautam is effective as a strict IPS officer with a kind heart, but we never get to know what drives her. Why she decided to help Ganga out? Why is education a cause so close to her heart? We never get to see what Deswal does when she is not at work.
What the writers do well is to flesh out the teacher-student relationship between Ganga and Deswal as it seems heartfelt, especially towards the end of the film. But even this angle is marred by a half-cooked attempt to make it look like a “triangle” with Bimla seeing the officer as the other woman in her husband’s life.
Both Yami Gautam and Nimrat Kaur deserved better character arcs, considering the amount of talent they bring to the table. Alas, we will have to wait a tad bit more for Bollywood to realise that even in male-driven films women can have impressive relevance and presence.
Views expressed are the author’s own.