Kaagaz is a biographical drama film written and directed by Satish Kaushik and stars Pankaj Tripathi, Monal Gajjar with Amar Upadhyay. It is based on the life of a villager named Lal Bihari from Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, who was declared dead on official papers.
There are movies that belong to an actor, where the actor embodies everything in the script and is the sole reason to watch the movie. Pankaj Tripathi has become such an actor in the Bollywood film industry as of late that whatever movie he is in, he takes the movie with him on his shoulders. Kaagaz, Tripathi’s latest release, is that movie.
How many times have we watched movies about the two India-s that exist and the common man fighting for their right? There have been many instances of movies like these and although I personally have not come across one where they talk about declaring someone who is alive dead, the concept isn’t anything new. Regardless of new concepts, a movie is as good as its script and actors and you can still bring something new and fresh to it but tweaking these two.
However, Satish Kaushik’s Kaagaz, although humorous at certain points, feels old and drags a lot, especially after the novelty wears off. This isn’t to say that it’s absolutely horrendous (and I’ll get to that in a bit) but it’s still boring as all heck to watch after a while.
The basic problem here is that Kaagaz has so many unnecessary subplots and lack of subtlety that it can give you a headache after a while. The movie, instead of having faith in its audience and leaving something for them to mull over, points out every little thing and spells it out for you. There’s a kidnapping scene in the middle which is there just to point out how nice Bharat Lal is, although that part has been pointed out too many times before. It’s unnecessary and does nothing but pad the runtime.
On the other hand, we see corrupt officers being corrupt and there’s no subtlety that makes the audience thing about anything. Everything that can happen, happens and the audience just has to sit and stare.
Regardless of its problems though, Kaagaz shines because of Pankaj Tripathi. I was rewatching Stree the other day and even in such a small role as Rudra, he is absolutely applaudable. Here, he carries the entire weight of the 2-hour-long movie and there isn’t a moment when you won’t be amazed by his talent. Tripathi has played similar small-town characters in the past. But somehow, every time there’s something different. Tripathi embodies every character and makes it his own and it feels like this is who he actually is. His talent makes Kaagaz an enjoyable watch and keeps you wanting more.
Although I was not impressed by the script, the production design is pretty great and gives you the feel of a UP village quite impressively. The costume, too, is great and you will be transported to Bharat Lal’s home quite effectively. Unfortunately, most of the script consists of elements and people who/that are not important and thus drag the runtime too much. It’s sometimes enjoyable, but a bulk of the runtime is quite bland and boring.
Summing up: Kaagaz
Kaagaz is Pankaj Tripathi’s movie. He’s the reason you watch it. Be it his heartwarming smile or heart-shattering sadness, he’s worth it in every minute of the film. Everyone else is also decent, nothing spectacular though.
However, be aware that the script doesn’t do the actor justice and it’s nothing that will grip you with any extreme emotion at any point. It might act as an inspiration for never giving up, but that’s about it.
Oh, and there’s a very tasteless item dance number somewhere in the mix. I don’t know why it was added, but item numbers need to stop existing in Bollywood movies.
Kaagaz is streaming on Zee5.
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