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Serious Men review: a Satirical Tale of a Man’s Subversion

Updated: Oct 17

Nupur Lanjekar

12th October 2020

Sudhir Mishra, the director of beautiful movies like Is Raat ki Subha Nahi (1996) and Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003), is finally back in form with another masterpiece, Serious Men. Serious Men, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Indira Tiwari, and Akshat Das in the lead roles, adapts the novel Serious Men written by Manu Joseph. The story revolves around a Dalit personal assistant, Ayyan Mani (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui), to a Brahmin astrophysicist, Arvind Acharya (played by Nasser), working at the National Institute of Fundamental Research. Having led a life of oppression due to his caste, Ayyan decided to channel his inner anger by using his 10-year-old son, Adi (played by Aakshat Das), a genius, to change their family's future.

A promotional poster of Serious Men (Source: Netflix)

Through the course of the film, Adi raises some tough questions, which puts the audience into deep thought and pushes them to reevaluate the society they live in. Sudhir Mishra beautifully portrays how each section of society only looks out for its interests in this complex world. Since Ayyan's son, Adi, is a well-known genius, he soon becomes famous and the centre of attention for everyone, especially the politicians who only want to use him as bait for their political benefits. The film uses the term 'serious men', to refer to white-collar jobs, bringing out the class differences inherent to our society. All with a beautiful screenplay, considering the movie has been adapted from the book. The cinematography is also notable, as even though they shot on the chaotic streets of Mumbai, the scenes and settings fit perfectly with the film's on-going emotions.

Nawazuddin was an excellent casting choice for this work. He never seems to be struggling to enter the character’s mind. With his fantastic acting, he puts the audience in awe and breathes life into the nature of Ayyan Mani. Apart from Nawaz, the movie gets massive support from Indira Tiwari, Akshat Das, and Sanjay Navrekar, making it a film with one of the best quality acting. Indira Tiwari does not fail to ‘wow’ you with her role as a mother of a genius kid and a wife of a man who struggles to make a change in his family's life. Akshat Das plays the robust character of Adi, complementing it with his natural comedic sense. The well-written dialogue is the cherry on the top of a damn well-made cake. While we don't see Sanjay Navrekar very often in mainstream movies, he does full justice to his character of a Dalit leader trying to control situations and people while using Ayyan Mani's son.

Serious Men is ultimately well-intentioned and portrays the anger and frustration that wells up in a man due to his society's years of constant oppression. It brings out the voice of a Dalit man in India. It is a simple story but puts forth some sharp satirical views of society. While the movie might not prove to be everybody's cup of tea, we give it definite thumbs up.

Serious Men, directed by Sudhir Mishra, is now streaming on Netflix.

News Sources: Netflix, Firstpost, NDTV.

Edited by - Aayush Lahoti

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