Arjun Sarja’s latest film, Abhinmanyu is about the Right to Education (RTE), which of course is both an interesting as well as a socially relevant topic. Arjun has directed, produced and acted in the film which tackles head on a subject which definitely needs all the limelight it can get. However, Arjun manages to turn this rather serious topic into the subject matter for a feature film combining it with entertainment in a sensitive manner. The realism is mixed with action, chase sequences and shootouts between the hero and villains. The director has released this film in three languages (it is called Jai Hind 2 in Tamil and Telugu). According to Arjun, the film has taken a leaf out of one of Abdul Kalam’s books and then fictionalised it.
The film, which is over two hours long follows the stories of six separate characters and their various subplots. Abhimanyu (Arjun Sarja), a computer engineer (who is also a karate expert), is happy to teach his martial arts skills to a number of kids living in the neighbourhood.
Shalini (Surveen Chawla) living in the area falls for Abhimanyu because he saves her from a serious fall. The quiet daily life of the neighbourhood is shattered when three members of a carpenter’s family commit suicide. This incident changes Abhimanyu’s perspective especially as he learns the reason behind their deaths — the main reason being the lack of funds to educate their only child, Parvathi in a private school. That’s when Abhimanyu starts his fight for the Right to Education for everyone and presses for far reaching changes in the country.
He stresses on the need for the education system to get more democatic. In his attempts to bring in changes in the system, he lands up in jail. Here, he is targetered by the prison inmates and a couple of police officers who attempt to kill him. Will Abhimanyu come out of his chakravyuh and succeed in his revolutionary march?.
Arjun as a director
The basic idea behind Abhimanyu was to describe the challenges the protagonist faces while trying to change the education system. His film also delves into the idea of how ordinary persons can become heroes by fighting for a cause. However, the action is overstated in the film and often dilutes the realistic message.
Though there are plenty of things that could have been talked about in terms of education, the premise becomes weaker as it gets mixed with commercial elements and lags in between. Action along with romance, songs and dance gains prominence throughout the film. It seems like Arjun cannot escape the influences of his own past work.
Arjun as an actor
At 52, it is remarkable that he manages to carry the film on his extremely well-built shoulders. The audience sits on the edge of their seats as they watch his fast-paced action sequences. Since, Arjun has been a star who has always been part of films with social and political themes, he is comfortable playing such characters. His role in Abhimanyu once again proves that he can connect with the ordinary man with every film that he does. A special mention must be made of a speech on education that he shares with the media in the film. Its impact could be gauged by the whistles and applause in the theatre.
Arjun as a producer
The film definitely needs that extra bit of energy to make it a universal story, catering to all kinds of audience. With Arjun being the main star of the film, everyone works as a prop in their supporting roles. The film can very well do without the comedy, which is definitely not in good taste.
It actually takes away from the actual plot. Music by Arjun Janya has a couple of catchy lyrics. Cinematographer HC Venugopal has done his best and has tried to capture locales that go well with the story. The editing desk could have done a better job.
The Verdict: Abhimanyu is a taut action film with a strong social message. The subject would not have lost its grip if he was a little focussed on what exactly he wanted to say. However, Arjun has put enough effort into the film to make it a worthy one-time watch.