Based on a true story, “Mohandas” is about a shy young poverty-stricken man, played by Nakul Vaid, from a backward community who gets a much-coveted government job, only to have another cunning man (Sushant Singh) assume Mohandas’s identity and take over the job.
The hapless man runs from pillar to post trying to prove his identity. The well-crafted leisurely-paced narration comes to a point where Mohandas must prove his very existence.
Such incidents of job forgery are prevalent in small towns.
Director Mazhar Kamran gets major help from writer Uday Prakash in piecing together the curious case of Mohandas. What could have been a bland documentary-like tale of government bungling is turned into an engaging thriller where we the audience wonder how something so outrageous could happen in contemporary times.
Cleverly, the character of the television journalist (Sonali Kulkarni) takes us through Mohandas’s strange and disturbing journey of self-negation. Sonali’s reactions become ours. And we become one with the character’s pathetic plight.
Ironically the film’s biggest strengths become its weaknesses. While the dusty, rocky atmosphere of Annupur in Madhya Pradesh furnishes the narration with that parched realism that the theme needs, it also distances urban audiences who aren’t likely to have encountered the world of Mohandas first hand. And they couldn’t care less.
The film draws us in, but not enough to take Mohandas’ plight home with us. The journalist does take us some way into this dry and gloomy world of arrested development. But after a point we are not really with her.
Also, the film lacks a sense of redemption. The end is bitterly gloomy. Mohandas retires to a remote mountan with his wife (Sharbani Mukherjee).
Worth watching for creating the tormented world of a character who loses the very meaning of his existence.
As Mohandas Nakul delivers a quiet and restrained performance. We never catch him acting. Also effective are Sonali as the television journalist who takes interest in the case only to a point, and Sushant as the unscrupulous man who takes over Mohandas’s identity.
Director-cinematographer Kamran’s kingdom of the doomed is a tale of defeat. If you’re looking for a hero who overcomes all obstacles, “Mohandas” proves unequal to the task.