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Humble Politician Nograj movie review: Danish Sait’s political satire mirrors real world

Humble Politician Nograj movie cast: Danish Sait, Sumukhi Suresh, Vijay Chendoor, Sruthi Hariharan, Roger Narayan Humble Politician Nograj movie director: Saad Khan Humble Politician Nograj movie rating: 3.5 stars

Satire is a very effective political weapon, which allows the weak to question those in power. While mocking the powerful, this form of comedy also enlightens the people about the real intent behind the actions of those who give us the marching orders.

Popular TV show host John Oliver creates a massive political impact in the United States with his show Last Week Tonight. In favour of the open internet, in 2014, he told his over 4 million viewers why they should protest against the government’s proposal to alter net neutrality. The next day, the Federal Communication Commission’s website was unable to handle the overflowing traffic and crashed. So did the telecom companies’ efforts to change the status-quo of the free and fair internet.

Filmmaker Saad Khan and comedian Danish Sait have made a political satire Humble Politician Nograj and have released it when the major state assembly elections are around the corner in Karnataka. This film does not recommend who you should vote for. But, it does show types of politicians, who you shouldn’t empower with your vote. It is also a progressive film, that deals with taboo and touchy issues with maturity and kindness.

Nograj (Danish Sait) is the embodiment of political corruption. He his soaked in corruption to the point where his brain fails to understand why it is wrong to take or give bribe. For Nograj, a politician by definition means corruption. His life’s purpose is to plunder people and share the loot with his partners in crime.

Nograj is not a stranger to people in Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru. He had been an internet sensation among urban dwellers for years. Danish created this animation character for his prank shows on radio and later started doing social commentary using him. What makes Nograj a hit is that he makes no bones about the fact that he is corrupt. Or call out members of the public who sell their political rights for money.

After being humiliated at a public function by MLA Jagatprabhu F Kumar aka JFK (Hanumanthe Gowda), Corporator Nograj sets off on a personal mission to destroy JFK’s political career. He hides behind the mask of a clown. His opponents never see him coming and people just sit back and enjoy the freak show.

Nograj’s shot at being an MLA faces a formidable challenge posed by honest businessman Arun Patil (Roger Narayan). After returning to his home state from the US, Arun is fed up with the flawed system of the state. And decides to lead the change by independently contesting the elections.

Nograj fights the campaign in an old-fashioned way by piding people on the basis of caste, creed, religion and in fact sexual orientation. In one scene, making an ally with a gay politician, he says, “I don’t have a problem with you people but I can make other people have a problem with you.”

Arun leads an issue-based political campaign without throwing muck on his opponents. He addresses the real problems and gains public trust by solving one problem at a time. To defeat Arun’s progressive politics, Nograj resorts to the dirty one.

Bengaluru’s never-ending garbage problem. The detachment between the local governing body and the state government. An ailing party patriarch, who refuse to hand over the baton to his successor. Non-issues that change the outcome of elections and more. The film mirrors the sorry state of the politics in the country and the demeaning ways used to win an election. Not just that, it also enlightens people on whom to blame for the problems they face in day-to-day life.

In a surprising way, Humble Politician Nograj is also very kind to treating homosexuality in the film. Yes, a few jokes are made at the cost of a gay politician’s constant effort to seduce Nograj. But, I can’t recall a film in India in the commercial space that handled the taboo  subject with maturity and without an iota of vulgarity like this film.

Danish is effortless as Nograj. The main source of the humour in the film is the poor grammatical knowledge of Nograj in English and his efforts to correct his personal assistant Monjunath’s (Vijay Chendoor) language. Sumukhi Suresh as Lavanya plays an unambitious wife, who is madly in love with her husband Nograj. Roger Narayan has also delivered a convincing performance as a citizen with the sense of social responsibility.

The real victory of Danish and Saad, writers of Humble Politician Nograj, lies in their effort to create a sensible film backed with a clear plot, story, screenplay and cleverly-written dialogues, instead of making it just about the comical transgressions of Nograj.

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