Serious Men talks about that purposeless song, which we sometimes refer to as life. Life in itself is not abortive if perceived in its real sense but our actions are, to some extent. We try to escape the circus, just to find that maybe we can never truly escape it if we keep searching for the wrong things. The film is combative in its approach. It puts a blunt gaze on the existing cast system, splatters of which still falls on us. In a contemporary society, we might manage to somehow relieve ourselves from the strangulation of our caste due to a more educated and metropolitan environment, but we can never escape the autocratic hierarchy made on the basis of monetary resources. It takes a generation to get past the hurdle and reach the next level. Often the one who initiates the jump is not even there to reap the fruits. Such is the nature of this megalomaniac and materialistic life.
Ayyan Mani (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) works as a personal assistant to the renowned scientist Dr. Arvind Acharya( Nassar) , who is doing research on the existence of extraterrestrial microorganisms i.e alien elements. Ayyan calls these intellectuals Serious Men. According to Ayyan these people do not understand the basic meaning of life but have invested their time and energy into finding somethings that do not matter to the existence of petty beings, like him. Ayyan says that while people are dying and quality of life is deteriorating every passing day, somewhere an imbecile is busy making a presentation on why condoms should have dots. But he also understands that it is these insignificant jobs that earn you the respect and financial gain. His son becomes an overnight sensation as he is a child prodigy. He talks about complex formulas and does calculations on his fingertips, which earn him the nickname of human computer. But soon we realize that everything is a part of a fraudulent plan. An attempt made by a common man to cross that very hurdle and reach the next stage via a shortcut. Ayyan says that his son is a genius because his father is a smart man. He seems to have figured out everything. We falsely assume that we can tame this life but little do we know that life and its mysterious ways were never properly understood, even by the greats. Life surprises us and when we think we have a tenacious hold, it slips like sand from our very own fingers
A Rendezvous with Reality
Serious Men makes us aware of the vices of a nation which has a capitalist dream. The rich keep on getting richer and the poor become more deplorable every passing day. A miracle needs to happen and only then can one upgrade. Usually if you are born in a middle class family, the chances that you will die an elite are scarce. One might work hard enough so that his children may cross that financial hurdle. Ayyan says that it takes four generations to just sit idly and not do anything in life. It is that luxurious table that stands on the legs made by the hard work of the preceding generations, who themselves were never able to reap what they sowed.
But Ayyan is relentless and keeps on upgrading himself. A scene stands out where Ayyan is writing a letter to his boss, requesting him for a paternity leave. He chooses the most fancy words from the English language, and elucidates his reasons in an extremely comic manner, making use of the English Dictionary.
The screenplay takes a dig at the society and the hindi film industry in specific. It makes a colossal impact when Nawauddin Siddiqui says :-
“Light kam hai to kya, apne talent se chamkenge.”
Nawazuddin Siddiqui captains this ship to a safe shore. The actor has so much to give that one is always left craving for more. He surprises you, makes you laugh with his performance, and leaves you with a lump in your throat in some extremely stirring scenes. It’s always astounding to see Sanjay Narvekar slipping into the shoes of any character with minimal effort. The film might feel a bit stretched at times but never hindered in its attempt to grimly mock the existing systems of a capitalist economy. It takes a cynical approach and never fails to quarrel with your idea of existence.
Serious Men is a 2020 dark comedy satirical drama, directed by Sudhir Mishra, and is based on an award winning novel by Manu Joseph, of the same name. The film features Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Indira Tiwari and Aakshath Das in the lead roles.
The film is streaming on Netflix.
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