Duration: 01 Hr 56 Mins
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Director: Satish Kaushik, Zeel Thacker
Writers: Ansuman Bhagat, Imtiaz Hussain (dialogue), Imtiaz Hussain,(screenplay) Satish Kaushik
Producers: Soni Amit, Sharad Chaudhary, Nishant Kaushik, Salman Khan, Vikas Malu, Zeel Thacker
Music: Pravesh Mallick, Rahul Jain, ceAzar
Cinematography: Arkodeb Mukherjee
Release Date: 07 January 2021 (India)
Released On: Zee5
Star Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Sandeepa Dhar, Amar Upadhyay, Monal Gajjar, Divyam Agarwal, Sharat Sonu, Garrvil Mohan, Mita Vashisht
Plot: The film is a biographical drama based on the life of a villager named Lal Bihar (played by Pankaj Tripathi) from Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh. He runs a troupe of musicians who play at weddings and other functions. ‘Kaagaz’ takes us through his never-ending paper chase from courts and lawyers, to the press, to the large mansions where elected representatives of the people reside, to prove his existence.
As it is when his wife urges him to expand his business, he approaches a local bank in Uttar Pradesh for a loan, he realizes that his uncle and his sons have declared him legally dead, and snatched his share of the piece of land that the family had jointly owned.
Review: Written and directed by Satish Kaushik, the film is about the common man’s fight for his right. Well, many times we have watched movies with similar concepts, but regardless of the concepts, what makes a movie interesting is its script and the actors involved, so tweaking these two rightly the director has tried to bring something new and fresh.
Earlier ‘Kaagaz' would have meant just ‘paper’ but in today’s India though, where the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) have been widely criticized for their potential to disenfranchise rightful Indian citizens, kaagaz means a lot more.
However, the script is not quite impressive. As the script consists of elements and people who/that are not important and thus drag the runtime too much with many unnecessary subplots that could give you a headache after a while.
Nevertheless, ‘Kaagaz’ effectively underlines the fact that the tragedy of Lal Bihari’s saga lies not just in his personal suffering but in the matter-of-factness with which he and other characters accept that corruption, bribe-taking, and bribe-giving are an inseparable part of life in India. Also, the film opens and ends with Salman Khan reciting a poem titled ‘Kaagaz’, which emphasizes the centrality of pieces of paper in the lives of people. When seen in the context of a ceaseless struggle for survival, the lyrical suggestion takes on an ominous overtone.
When it comes to performances, Pankaj Tripathi for such a character is a gift! There are movies that belong to an actor, and Pankaj Tripathi has become one such actor in the Bollywood film industry as of late, that whatever movie he is in, he takes the movie on his shoulders. From the sweetest father in Gunjan Saxena to a sassy gun-slinging gang leader in Ludo, Pankaj has proven time and again that there is really nothing that he cannot do.
Kaagaz’s heft also comes from the fleshing out of two supporting characters: Monal Gajjar and Mita Vashisht. Mona Gajjar playing Bharat Lal’s wife Rukmani possesses enough charm just in her smile to lit-up even the dullest of scenes. She disguises herself as this ‘sanskari’ wife from the ’80s perfecting almost every trait. The reputedly honest politician Mita Vashisht's reaction to Bharat Lal’s case is more enlightening than any other person involved. Whereas, Satish Kaushik dons two hats for this one – one of an actor and the other, of the director. While he is his usual amusing self as a morally loose lawyer, it is his direction that disappoints.
Arkodeb Mukherjee’s cinematography is rustic and relevant. The production design is pretty great and has given the feel of a UP village quite impressively. The costumes by costume designer Sujata Rajain have aptly managed to capture the essence of heartland India and the era that is far bygone.
However, when it comes to music, not a single song clicks hence the talents such as Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik have gone wasted. The background score is a mixed bag, at times it syncs in well with the theme, but then there are also times when you would just want to un-listen certain tacky sound-effects. To top it all, the addition of a very tasteless item dance number wasn't required.
Overall, the film might act as an inspiration for never giving up, but it is Pankaj Tripathi’s talent that makes ‘Kaagaz’ an enjoyable watch and keep you wanting more.