Manjunath is a true story. This film tackles the issue of whistle-blowing and the hurdles faced by those who stand up to the thugs. Manjunath is about Manjunath Shanmugam, an IIM-graduate who was just doing his job. He refused to be bribed and didn’t bow down to threats. For that, he paid a huge price. The movie tells us his story, so that we don’t forget and that we don’t back down. Directed by Sandeep A. Verma, Manjunath touches the heart. Often these sacrifices are just swept aside, but no more. A hero is just someone who does his duty. This country needs heroes. At the end of the film, you will see that the truth matters. We just have to tell it, like Manjunath did.
We are used to the various scams that come to light. Manjunath deals with a young man’s life and the tragedy that befell him. The movie recounts this tragedy from the point of view of Manjunath Shanmugam. A completely normal guy who has the same troubles as everyone else. Coming from a lower middle class background, he tries to get his degree and a good job. It is the dream of any student to get into the prestigious IIMs. But that doesn’t guarantee a good job. At the end of his studies, he gets placed at Bharat Oil Corporation as a sales-marketing officer. While working in the middle of nowhere (read: remote region of Uttar Pradesh), he comes across an oil-adulteration scam. After looking into it, Manjunath realizes that the scam is huge and far reaching. This puts him in the cross hairs of the oil mafia. At first, they try to buy him off since they believe that every man has his price. When Manjunath refuses to accept bribes, the threats begin. Despite this, he continued to do his job. This wasn’t what the mafia was used to. An honest man with a clear ideology of duty. His notion is that if we who are the cream of the country can be bullied what will become of those who don’t have a voice. Manjunath’s stand scared the mafia into a corner, and like any animal pushed into the corner, the mafia bared its teeth. Shot six times, Manjunath was left for dead. His death was a rallying cry. The world of IIM and the educated came together. Thus began the fight for justice. In the end, the scam was brought to light. The murderers were caught and found guilty in a court of law. All this was because Manjunath refused to turn a blind eye.
This film doesn’t make Manjunath into a martyr. Instead, the film is narrated to the audience. The story makes the movie. You get involved. It draws you in. Manjunath’s life isn’t shown as the perfect hero story. He is shown as a young man who faces fears and troubles just like the rest of us. Sasho Satish Sarthy does a wonderful job of portraying this. Manjunath comes alive on screen with his amazing performance. Seema Biswas plays Manjunath’s mother. She is exquisite to watch. There isn’t a single moment where you will wonder about a mother’s love. Divya Dutta does a passable job. Yashpal Sharma is very convincing. His role as the oil pump owner makes your skin crawl. Overall, the acting works. There are parts which are kitschy, but then this is a movie. The music is exceptional, with songs composed and played by Parikrama. The director Sandeep A. Varma, has made a movie which will reach out and touch you. You will leave the theatre thinking about all those voices whose lives were cut short by evil.
Why should you watch this film?
This is not a hero film. This is a movie about one guy who made a choice to tell the truth. Nothing more, nothing less. His is a story that has to be heard, to ensure that Manjunath’s life wasn’t spent in vain. Watch this film and let the story carry you.