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Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Aditya Shrivastava, Pankaj Tripathi
Director: Vikas Bahl
RUNTIME: 155 Mins
Biographical films or biopics have always been a staple of the entertainment industry since the earliest days of silent cinema in films like French filmmaker Georges Melies’ epic Jeanne D’Arc.
We love ideas that already have ‘public domain’ – a certain public recognition; ‘based on a true story’ tag gives us a sense of greater substance and authenticity. This popular film genre produces a life of a real person to highlight a culturally significant time and space. Be warned, biopics are often botched in Bollywood.
Super 30 is an Indian Hindi-language biographical film that dramatises the inspiring life of mathematical magician Anand Kumar and his educational programme which selects 30 talented candidates each year from economically underprivileged sections of Indian society and mentors them for the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE).
Hrithik Roshan is depicted as Patna based mathematician Anand Kumar from a deprived family background, who clinches an admission at the Cambridge University for higher education but cannot afford to go.
Kumar chooses a completely different path from what he always dreamed to follow – a high paid tutor at a commercial educational institute backed by an education mafia and a corrupt minister. Anand becomes a star teacher.
But after a chance encounter with a rickshaw-puller, he finds his true calling. Against all odds, Anand starts his independent free classes to coach 30 young Philomath’s from India’s impoverished state Bihar to gain entry into the country’s one of the top coveted centres of learning and achievement.
To create this underdog story, director Vikash Bahl and writer Sanjeev Dutta convey all sorts of Bollywood stereotypes – dancing heroine, caricaturist politician-cum-villain, teacher-the-saviour hero and even a shootout climax. Despite that there are still many to-be-great-moments in the film but Vikash overcooks them either by exaggerated acting or lengthy scenes.
Hrithik, known for his dancing skills and Greek God physique, has portrayed a variety of characters in his career. But 45-year masculine Hrithik with greasy bronze dirt-poor-look makeup is an awkward fit for 20-something Anand, as Priyanka Chopra was for Mary Kom. His local (Bihari dialect) accent is clearly not as top notch as his co-actors’. Nonetheless, sincere and dedicated actor Roshan manages to give a charming portrayal of the real life superhero math-whiz Anand, leaving his Krrish superhero and Guzaarish magician vanity. Needless to say, he nails the Pursuit of Happyness moments more than once in the film.
And while the filmmaker makes sure Super 30 is Hrithik’s Chak De! India, the eureka moment of solving avant-garde equations on the wall is clearly borrowed from Good Will Hunting and the animated scribbles on the blackboard trick is reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind. Wait, there is even a Home Alone-inspired climax where the students gun-fight with the baddies using maths.
However, the renowned casting director Mukesh Chabra has outdone himself and has a talented ensemble of supporting actors. Virendra Saxena and Sadhana Singh Shahabadi make dynamic chemistry as loving parents. Mrunal Thakur of Love Sonia fame is smooth in her small appearance as Hrithik’s love interest and debutant actor Nandish Sandhu as younger brother is confident. The CID celebrity Aditya Srivastava who acted as education mafia was intense and the students look and speak believably. Last but foremost, Pankaj Tripathi’s corrupt minister steals the show. It was interesting watching Anand’s beautiful mind at work.
Subidita’s verdict: 3/5