Great films are conversation starters and game changers; mediocre ones are like dull lectures, one-sided. This one is the latter and not at a very good college.
Director Soumik Sen's "Why Cheat India", subtly exposes the appalling underbelly of the education system in our country.
The narrative begins circa 1998. Satyendra Dubey aka Sattu (Snigdhadeep Chatterjee) is a studious boy from Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, who studies in Kota, the hub of coaching classes for competitive exams. On successfully clearing his exams, he is abound by offers, mostly by dubious people running coaching classes.
Soon, he gets lured by the smooth operator Rakesh Singh aka Rocky (Emraan Hashmi), a con-man who runs a flourishing business that allows education scams to flourish in the country.
His modus operandi is to enrol bright students to crack the question papers or write proxy exams for rich spoilt students who are unable to score. Alternately, he is a genius in producing fake documents or degrees. How Rakesh Singh gets exposed, forms the crux of the narrative.
Part of the genius of the film, is that it unfolds at a deliberate pace. While the first half is engaging, it manages to build a solid set-up, the second half indulges in a romance angle. Despite deviating from the flow, the plot does not lose focus. In fact, playing safe, the film is careful to keep a distance from controversies and to some degree is truthful to the subject (One of the first slide of the narrative states that the film is a hybrid of facts and fiction).
Emraan Hashmi plays the classic anti-hero Rakesh Singh to the hilt. He is a charmer and is sincere in his performance despite being a rotter, bounder and an opportunist.
He is aptly supported by Snigdhadeep Chatterjee as Sattu and Shreya Dhanwanthary as Sattu's sister and Emraan's love interest Nupur. They are both natural and impressive in their debut performance. The other noticeable character in the film is Rakesh's lackey who acts like a buffoon while assisting him in his endeavours.
The music is insignificant and goes unheard in the narrative.
Overall, with its moderate production values the film manages to keep you engaged for most of its run time. But considering its strong social message it is supposed to convey, the film fails to leave an impact.
Film: "Why Cheat India"; Director: Soumik Sen; Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Ammar Taalwala, Snigdhadeep Chatterjee