At a time when Bollywood is busy remaking big budget Hollywood films, it takes a courageous filmmaker to make a small family drama. But guts are what writer/director Mahesh Manjrekar has plenty of, as is evident in Viruddh, a bleak but brave tale in which screen icons Amitabh Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore play an elderly couple who are devastated when their only son becomes a victim of a heinous crime. Exuding compassion and honour, this is a tearjerker with a taut message.
The biggest concerns Vidhyadhar (Bachchan) and Sumitra Parwadhan (Tagore) have after retirement are how to control their flaring diabetes and blood pressure. So when their only son Amar (John Abraham) returns from London with his British girlfriend Jenny (Anusha Dandekar), the shock sends their pulses racing. No sooner do they settle than John bears the repercussions of intervening in a crime he has witnessed. Sadly, justice is a commodity afforded mainly by the rich in India. And it's this social vulnerability in the face of a corrupt legal system that Viruddh explores in a courageous, albeit sluggish manner.
"BACHCHAN AND TAGORE'S ELECTRIC CHEMISTRY"
Manjrekar skilfully turns what starts off as a sensitive look at a father-son relationship into a stark account of one man's battle against a paradigm of power. By cleverly transforming the typically mighty Bachchan into a vulnerable old man, he manages to highlight the film's moral of truth triumphing over power. Bachchan and Tagore's electric screen chemistry also gives the film some much-needed humour, without which it would feel too depressing. Despite a slow start and obvious ending, Viruddh stands its ground and delivers a family saga well worth watching, but not without a hankie.
In Hindi with English subtitles.