Aarakshan is about an upright principal with his principles intact. He suffers the consequences of being philanthropic and allegedly biased towards students of lower caste, and later fights back and emerges as an underdog hero, courtesy: support of friends, students & Co. An endearing scene becomes indelible memory of the film, where Amitabh Bachchan notices a group of teenage girls studying mathematics in a ‘tabela’ owned by his friend. He approaches the girls and helps them solve the QED problem in mathematics. He makes it all seem easy to solve and teaches them new full form of the abbreviation QED as: Quite Easily Done.
Among the ensemble of actors like Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Prateik Babbar, Tanvi Azmi, Yashpal Yadav, Darshan Zariwala, and Hema Malini in a cameo role, the only actor who makes his presence felt in the film after Amitabh Bachchan is Manoj Bajpai, in a negative character with positive impact. Saif Ali Khan essays the role of a Dalit with utmost conviction, which is evident in the first fifteen minutes of the film.
The songs of Aarakshan seem redundant. When Deepika dons a towel and roams around, you know she’s waiting for the song, ‘Jhatak kar zulf’ to play as background score. The song ‘Saans albeli’ rendered by Ustad Sultan Khan and Shreya Goshal is soul-stirring, more so because of the fact that it brings relief after enduring a scene where Deepika Padukone confronts Saif Ali Khan and breaks off with him. Deepika has a hard time delivering her lines and getting her expressions right. She looks so skinny that you prefer counting the bones on her neck and shoulder than to watch her expressionless face. In this particular scene, Deepika gives serious competition to the wooden table on which Saif is ironing clothes.
The title, Aarakshan is a misnomer. The film has got nothing to do with the reservation bill after its first half. It seems the title was chosen just to evoke debates among not only its characters, but also among we, the people. After the first half, it seems director Prakash Jha forgot he is making a film on reservation and not education system or the principal. The debate, too, shifts from reservation v/s merit to colleges v/s coaching classes.
Post interval, the film seems reminiscent of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s underrated classic ‘Satyakam’, where Dharmendra sticks to his guns, fights against the corrupt system sans ‘kutte-kamineys’. Similarly, Aarakshan is about a man’s conviction to battle circumstances with his inner strength and an indomitable spirit to start afresh, despite old age.
Aarakshan is a befitting tribute to the living legend Amitabh Bachchan and you just can’t stop wondering why the film wasn’t titled, ‘Buddhah Hoga Tera Baap-2’. Amitabh Bachchan leaves you awe-inspired, with power-packed performance, where the actor’s histrionics locks horns with restraint, making it all seem: ‘Quite Easily Done’.