Medal(Punjabi, Prime Video)
Director Maneesh Bhatt’s Medal is not interested in aesthetic niceties. Straightaway it plunges into its energetic, some would say, crude domain of mass entertainment, and succeeds in playing to the galleries far better than other recent mass entertainers in any language.
Medal belongs to the Anil Sharma, Guddu Dhanoa , Raj Kanwar school of filmmaking. It is the story of an innocent ambitious sportsperson who when pushed to the wall emerges as a gangster.
That exact moment whem Raja(Jayy Randhawa) shifts gears from sports to slaying is brilliantly choreographed . The clinching fight in a jail compound where Raja imprisoned for no fault of his own, hitherto bullied and assaulted by the jail inmates, suddenly does a somersault from P T Usha to Abu Salem is designed as a blood-soaked battle in a prison courtyard.
It is a work of kitch art, done with the meticulous vision of a director who knows just where and when to get his audience by their collective jowls.
Randhawa’s Raja’s transformation is not explained in terms of the physical strength that he suddenly invests into his character’s changed destiny. All we know is that when a innocent law-abiding citizen is pushed to the wall his soul will ricochet. To that extent, Medal is worth its weight on molten gold.
It is fast paced and unnerving in its conviction that a Good Man is just a hair’s breadth away from the other side.The writing(by Jassi Lohka) is italized in its emotions. The storytelling is punctuated by high moments of melodrama.Raja’s police torture where they brand his chest with a medal, is chilling even though it is done in such cringe-worthy broad strokes.
For some some strange reason. I thought of Vetrimaaran’s Tamil film Visaranai, although all the vital organs of the two films are as dissimilar as can be. Nonetheless brutality and its aftermath need no specific language.
Medal sucks us into Raja’s damnation. It flings us into his world of karmic retribution and tells us in no uncertain terms that the meek shall NOT inherit the earth.Jayy Randhawa’s conversion from Gandhian to egalitarian is convincing and quite often, engaging.
Of course the film is crude. But it has a heart swelling and spilling over with anger and injustice .
I am told the film is based on a real character.It might as well be. All revolutions are born in a mood of aggression. I won’t go as far as to call Medal revolutionary(in fact it bows to the most basic traditions of our filmmaking). But there is a certain authenticity to its alarmist tone.
As you sow so you shall reap, goes the adage. Medal seems to know that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. And to hell with niceties.