‘Dasvi’ Abhishek Bachchan Tries Too Hard to Be a Haryanvi Jat-type Politician
- The film does the method actor a disservice with poor storytelling, familiar tropes and the same old off-the-cuff jokes.
After watching “Ramprasad ki Tehrvi”, I thought that “Dasvi” might have a similar connotation but in this case, Dasvi (or perhaps Dasveen) refers to the scholastic milestone: Tenth grade. Written by Ritesh Shah and directed by debutant Tushar Jalota, the plot is decent for a social comedy. The film is produced by Dinesh Vijan/ Maddock Films and is streaming on Netflix and in theaters April 2022. The movie is a sort of coming-of-age film for Chaudhary (Abhishek Bachchan), an uneducated but savvy politician who looks larger than life in his churidar cobalt blue, saffron and emerald green pagadis. A slim and strict IPS officer Yami Gautam has a side role as does Nimrat Kaur, the Choudhary’s wife.
Ganga Ram Chaudhary, the hubristic Chief Minister of Harit Pradesh (Haryana?), is implicated in an education scam and remanded to judicial custody. He appoints his wife Bimla Devi ‘Bimmo’ Chaudhary as interim CM until he can post bail. I rather liked how the bucolic lady of the manor is transformed into a powerful politician wearing designer saris and shades. Meanwhile, Chaudhary’s street smarts garner him special dibs in jail. When Jyoti Deswal(Yami Gautam), a new superintendent, arrives at the jail, Chaudhary’s shenanigans fail. His attempts to bribe a judge also go awry, and his bail request is denied.
Jyoti berates Chaudhary’s lack of education (he dropped out in 8th grade) and enlists him as the carpenter’s aide to make chairs. Insulted by this demotion of status and quickly figuring out that the prisoners attempting to gain a 10th-grade diploma are exempt from work, Chaudhary tries to feign a studious urge. Jyoti knows that he is pretending but she cannot thwart his “right to complete his education.” Chaudhary struggles, falls asleep over books, and has a fake and real myocardial infarction but Jyoti does not take his bait.
Meanwhile, Bimmo wants to become the Prime Minister and foils Chaudhary’s progress, because she does not want him to succeed. She releases the prisoner who is helping him with Hindi. Jyoti, seeing a shift for the better in the “Tiger stripes” processes his bail application but waits to tell him till after his exams. He discovers that Bimmo has usurped the CM chair and he has no support in his own party. He aligns with a rival party and contests the upcoming election making education his primary agenda. The election results and exam results are due on the same day. Chaudhary passes his “dasvi.” He gifts Jyoti a chair that he’d made in the workshop as her Gurudakshina (traditionally a gift given by a student to a teacher).
Chaudhary’s party wins the election but a changed man that he is, he also reconciles with Bimmo. He refuses the Chief Minister post and chooses to become the Minister of Education instead. It all seems heartwarming and grand but the final dialogues lack the spine of truth. It is more complicated than this film makes it to be. ( I thought education was still solid in India but I think politicians are trying to usurp the youth of their right to critical thinking by corrupting education. What a pity! Also in the movie, the jail looks like an Airbnb in Agra. The prisoners are all too well behaved. There is zero violence or tamasha. Everyone follows “caste” rules. The jailor is meek (Manu Rishi Chaddha). The strict prison-in-charge Jyoti Deswal (Yami Gautam) looks svelte in her uniform. Everyone falls in line at her call to order, except Choudhary who roars like he is a tiger, till one fine day, he loses his bravado and is also tamed by her.
Poor Abhishek. He is a good method actor. He puts his heart and soul into becoming a Haryanvi Jat-type gangster but he tries too hard. His guise is porous, much like a paper tiger. The transformation of a “conman” by applying himself to his textbooks seems like a good idea but the film does him a disservice by poor storytelling, familiar tropes and the same old off-the-cuff jokes. Someone who doesn’t even know the Hindi alphabet, thanks to his tribe of convicts, not only learns English grammar, but masters math, and chemical equations. Amazing.
His “jail-house gurus are an achondroplastic Ghanti (Arun Kushwah) and an affable librarian (Danish Hussain) who was incarcerated for bootlegging/xeroxing expensive books and Miss (Yami Gautam), who even gives him a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I thought that the movie was based on the life of Bihar’s chief minister duo but that would require special permission and take several episodes. Regardless, a solid investment in education is the only key to solving problems in India and in the world. Is anyone looking into that?
With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, and essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.