Starring Abhishek Bachchan,Nimrat Kaur, Yami Gautam Dhar
Directed by Tushar Joshi
Except for the fact that Yami Gautam looks nothing like a jail superintendent, Dasvi is quite a delightful experience. It is filled with little pockets of surprising warmth and dollops of takeaway tenderness .
Abhishek Bachchan,in a career-defining performance, plays Gangaram Choudhary, the Chief Minister of an imaginary North Indian state that looks suspiciously like Haryana. Abhishek’s behaviour onscreen suggests he plays a younger more effervescent and reformative version of Om Prakash Chautala.His accent is spot-on and his body-language suggests an arrogant ownership of the space that he claims as though by birthright.
But let’s not get too political here. Dasvi intends to have fun with the politics of gender dynamics. It also puts across a deeply-felt message on the importance of education. On both the counts,it passes the examination with distinction. While Abhishek is delightful as a corrupt yet redeemable politician who uses jail-time to educate himself , the two women protagonists in the preponderant plot get the lioness’ share of the meat.
Nimrat Kaur is in terrific form as Bimla Devi , a mix-n-match variation of a certain female politician from Bihar who after her husband’s imprisonment takes over the chief ministerial reigns. However here’s the catch: after taking over from her husband Bimla Devi doesn’t want to step down, even if her husband is released.
This part of the gender politics is brought to you by the webseries series Maharani.The other female character of the jail superintendent Jyoti Deswal is not convincingly played. Yami Gautam is a misfit in the role.She looks and behaves more like a stern editor of a gossip magazine sniffing out scoops rather than straightening out the jail inmates.
But it is wonderful to see two women take charge of the hero, and grab him by his testicles . Hats off to the co-writers(Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair and Sandeep Leyzell) for writing such strong roles for the women in what’s predominantly the politician’s story.
The supporting cast is terrific specially Manu Rishi Chadha as the assistant jailor Satpal, Chittaranjan Tripathy as the servile IAS officer(an exaggerated but befitting portrait of how bureaucrats are treated by politicians) and Arun Kushwaha as Ghanti the horizontally challenged jail inmate whom Gangaram calls ‘Bhagwan’.
Dasvi is a well-intended tale of absolute power corrupting absolutely and the ultimate redemption. My favourite moment in the film shows Gangaram touching the jail superintendent Jyoti’s feet after sitting his examination. I won’t reveal what she gets as guru-dakshina. But there is a lot to be said about the kursi and a power-hungry politician when he sets his mind to it.