An ordinary working-class apartment is a treasure of human stories which the mainstream Hindi Film Industry has never displayed enthusiasm in hunting. Off late, we got a movie star playing Anand Kumar, a Mathematician who devoted his life to providing free coaching for 30 students every year for the IIT-JEE entrance exams. That’s what we are told in Vikas Bahl’s Super 30.
By no means, is Super 30 a bad movie, it is just lousy. But you can see right through the screen what it could have been, had it treated the full potential of the subject, the way it should have. It is a classic underdog story which we crave for. And Super 30 has dozens of such stories. And, it is tough to mess up an underdog story. Yet, what Super 30 manages to mess it up. Somehow, an exhilarating, uplifting and thought-provoking story is diluted merely to a Bollywood Movie.
Super 30’s colossal adversary is it’s over the top execution of an uncomplicated yet omnipotent concept. The writers try to emphasize the impact by force fitting action sequences involving students who apply concepts from their syllabus to fight goons. The sequence is not only cringing, but it feels exploited. And this happens during pre-climax, the night before Anand’s students are supposed to give their exam. So this was intended to a high-stakes/life-or-death sequence. The problem is, it is all over the place just like the movie and shows how lazy the writing is. The sequence intends to build tension by putting 30 kids’ lives in danger in a film about IIT-JEE entrance exam. The very thought of it is quite lame and lazy. Couldn’t they come up with well written scens to induce tension? Also, does a movie like this need an antagonist? I don’t feel so. But we have someone here whose character doesn’t have an arc but a straight line that runs parallel to the protagonist’s. The world around and the situations by themselves could have been antagonists. But no, we have a hero, so a villain must exist.
Coming to the cast, starting with the elephant in the room, Hrithik Roshan, not an excellent actor by any means, doesn’t get the character right. Now, I’ve never seen the real Anand Kumar, nor do I know his body language. The fact that Hrithik Roshan bearing no physical resemblance is not the issue, it is the actor’s obvious limited acting capabilities that spoil the show. No doubt, Hrithik Roshan tries hard on his body language and the Bihari accent, very hard. Sadly, all the trying is visible on the screen. All the kids look and act very naturally. These kids for real, look, talk and behave like what their characters are. Can’t say the same about the leading man.
Super 30 also suffers from Bollywoodisation. An unnecessary female character whom I don’t want to refer to as heroine or female lead because she hardly serves a purpose to the story but gets a montage song sequence that takes the story nowhere. Yes, she appears out of nowhere in the second half and finally gets to do something significant. But, it’s too late.
There are glimpses of what Super 30 could have actually been.
There is a beautiful scene in which the students are being fed by Anand’s mother and by the time she serves the last-in-line, they have run out of rice. Silently, the kid next to him shares his food with the last guy and then the next guy to the second last guy shares his food, and the chain goes on. This scene, which has all the elements to make a melodrama, is underplayed without any music. It works very well. This is how Super 30 should have been like.
Super 30 is now streaming on Hotstar