Dear Censor Board, after two hours of watching this Emraan Hashmi-starrer, I still have no clue why the 'Why' in the title makes any sort of sense. Won't it make better sense to rename the movie as 'Don't Cheat India' or 'Savdhaan India'? Anyway, Why Cheat India (groan) is about the malpractices happening in the education system and how one man tries to make a living out of it. The movie is directed by Soumik Sen, and are brought by the producers who gave us the brilliant Neerja and the enjoyable Tumhari Sulu. Emraan Hashmi’s Cheat India Gets Renamed by Censor Board and Like Us, Twitterati Can’t Help but Ask ‘Why?’
Rakesh Singh aka Rocky (Emraan Hashmi) is a silver-tongued small-time broker in Uttar Pradesh with an unusual livelihood. He hires brilliant students from small towns and masquerades them as well-off but weak engineering or banking aspirants, and make them write competitive tests. In return, he siphons money from the rich parents, while paying the poor students a share of the fee.
We first see him in operation in 1998, when under his radar, comes Sattu, a young engineering aspirant from a middle-class family who gets a high ranking in the competitive exam. Rocky lures him with the promise of big money, and soon, Sattu becomes his star performer, writing tests for many rich kids and earning enough money for himself. At the same time, his elder sister (Shreya Dhanwanthary) falls for Rakesh, not knowing he is married. Cheat India Song Phir Mulaaqat is Something Every Emraan Hashmi Fan Will Fall In Love With! (Watch Video),
Rakesh manages to make a name for himself in his town, but he doesn't guarantee 100% success. The parents who felt cheated tried to get him arrested. At the same time, Sattu, who has gotten into a prestigious college, gets into drugs as he can't handle the pressure of his side-job and gets himself rusticated. Will Rakesh manage to get these new messes in his life taken care of is what the rest of Why Cheat India all about.
When the trailer of Why Cheat India came out, it did give us a feeling that Emraan Hashmi is going back to his Jannat mould - playing morally bending characters who at first enjoys the high life their sins bring with them, only to develop a conscience later. However, Why Cheat India is different from Jannat series in its treatment and pattern.
For one, when we meet Rakesh Singh (with a kickass intro) first, he is already an established player in the game. Instead, it is Sattu who has the arc that Hashmi had in the other films - a naive guy who gets easily corrupted by the lure of quick money. And yet, they both share a common trait that makes the first half so very interesting. Emraan Hashmi Wants 'Why Cheat India' To Be Tax Free As It Highlights A Key Social Issue!
Sattu's career ambitions are driven by his government employee father, who doesn't want to see him fail. The pressure that his father puts upon him is something any student can easily relate to. At the same time, the father expects the elder daughter to get married soon, when she has the wish to learn more. On a separate note, the daughter is often trolled by her family, including her brother, for not knowing cooking well. Before you get all riled up, let me remind you that this is happening in 1998, where we haven't become so woke that we are almost now. Or are we?
Now Rakesh may be a go-getter, with influential friends and the smarts (and tongue) to make anyone fall for his charming schemes. But he is a failure in the eyes of his father for not getting into medical college, even though it is his money that runs the house. Rakesh is a reminder of what Sattu would have become if he hadn't got that rank. Which is exactly why Emraan Hashmi's character feels so fascinating.
He might be revelling in reaping profits in the corruption of our education system, but Rakesh thinks of himself as a decent guy and doing it to help everyone in the equation. Even when the consequences of his methods end up disastrous (a boy commits suicide over added pressure, another one overdoses on drugs), he can't find it in him to take the blame. After all, he didn't push them into it, did he? Rakesh loves to draw the line for himself when it comes to morality, so much that he doesn't mind getting into infidelity because the girl made the first move. What's even more refreshing is that Rakesh doesn't go through that mandatory 'prick of conscience' phase anywhere. He is what we call in Hindi 'kutte ki dum'.
Why Cheat India also exposes the nexus of how middlemen and coaching classes enjoy exploiting the weaker students and their parents with the assurance of seats. With the involvement of politicians, educational institutions and even police officials, it makes for a scary thought as to how easy it is for undeserving students to get a seat on merit, when a deserving one just lost another year due to this. Munna Bhai MBBS made have made it look like a funny gag, but no jadoo ki jhappis would have compensated for the student who lost that seat!
Coming back to the film, the first half benefits in establishing intriguing work ethics of Rakesh and his dynamics with people surrounding him. You may accuse the film of patronising the lead, but the movie never shows either Rakesh or Sattu actually enjoying the sins of their amoral activities a la Breaking Bad. Rakesh has an unhappy family life, while craving for the love he can never get, and Sattu's first guilty pleasure gets him on the wrong side of the law. So far so interesting!
In the second half, things take a dip as the action shifts to Mumbai in 2004. Sattu's character is ignored for most of the part, while Rakesh gets involved in a hesitant, forbidden romance with Sattu's sister that feels unnecessary. The pace feels cumbersome, and we crave to see some more exposure of our system through Rakesh's dealings. There is also a lack of energy in how the scenes are executed, as Why Cheat India can't get rid of that docudrama feel. Some of the dialogues lack the razor-sharp wit needed for movies like this. Though, I must add, the movie does take digs at 'pakoda' jobs and 'hagiopics' made to cleanse a person's image.
The proceedings do perk up when Rakesh gets into an MBA scam (though the scene is very dragged out, especially the whole vasooli gang charade). And then comes the twist, an unexpected one at that, that will make you reevaluate some of the inadequacies of the narrative before. A well-written one, that will jolt your senses!
The conclusion, however, may not appeal to everyone, though it ties up Rakesh's arc in a way that makes a lot of sense. The makers could have avoided the sermonising in the court, but that's again Rakesh trying to justify that he is not in the wrong - he is merely what the system is (and he also gets a good repartee in return!). Also can't help but feel like the final scene is a wink to the late Kundan Shah's Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.
An important aspect in Emraan Hashmi's films is the music, that mostly turns out to be chartbuster stuff. Why Cheat India's music is decent at best, though not a single track can be picked out. Alphonse Roy's camerawork makes the film grounded in its feel.
Watch The Trailer of Why Cheat India here -
A role like Rakesh Singh should have been a cakewalk for an actor like Emraan Hashmi. Yet, he gives it a different sort of appeal that makes his actually unlikeable character work. He pulls off the small-town broker act with ease, who changes his accent at will just to entice the person whom he is talking to. There is is no showiness in his performance, even when he is throwing off zingers, which makes Rakesh Singh feel understatedly real.
Debutante Shreya Dhawanthary is the surprise package of the film, charming us with her girl-next-door persona who has a couple of secrets hidden in her sleeves. She is quite natural and convincingly pulls off a very crucial scene in the second half of the film. Should go places!
- Emraan Hashmi
- Shreya Dhanwantary
- The Main Theme
- The Characterisation
- The Twist
- The Lag in Second Half
- Not a Protagonist to Root For
- The Docudrama Feel At Times
- The Climax May Not Go Down Well With Everyone
Why Cheat India opens a window into the dreary corrupt practices that happen in the education system that should remain open. Fuelled by Emraan Hashmi and Shreya Dhanwantary's fine performances, Why Cheat India lures you with its realistic setting and a well-written lead character, making it an interesting watch!