Varun Grover’s Directorial Debut Is an Easy Watch

‘All India Rank’ seems like ‘twelfth Fail’ on the first look however they’re starkly completely different.

Pratikshya Mishra

Film Critiques


Bodhisattva Sharma in a nonetheless from All India Rank.


(Picture Courtesy: YouTube)

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Bodhisattva Sharma in a still from<em> All India Rank.</em></p></div>

What do you do when the largest criticism a few movie is that there isn’t sufficient in it? Does that make it a nasty movie? Completely not. Does it make it a great movie? This query turns into troublesome to reply. 

Bodhisattva Sharma in a nonetheless from All India Rank.

In Varun Grover’s All India Rank, we meet a younger man Vivek (Bodhisattva Sharma) in 1997. Vivek is on his solution to a training institute to change into an IIT-ian – we quickly realise that that is his father’s dream greater than his personal. Typically, when Vivek is requested what his dream is, he both deflects or fails to give you a solution – he has spent so lengthy carrying his mother and father’ expectations and desires with him that he has forgotten to give you his personal. 

Whereas it is likely to be straightforward to attract comparisons between All India Rank and twelfth Fail, they’re really movies which might be starkly completely different. 

A nonetheless from All India Rank.

The way in which Sharma performs the character is attention-grabbing – he’s a passive protagonist. To guide a movie whereas taking part in a passive character is hard. It’s worthwhile to make the viewers care about you with out doing a lot. Grover and Sharma obtain this by perfecting the artwork of being relatable. When Vivek grumbles below his breath that his laddus have been stolen or his pent up frustration lastly will get a launch when his pen stops working, you possibly can’t assist however empathise.

Whereas inanimate objects are on the receiving finish of Vivek’s misplaced frustration, he himself is on the receiving finish of his father’s. Vivek’s father RK Singh (Shashi Bhushan) seems like he has been picked up from an episode of Workplace Workplace. Regardless of being overworked and missed at work, he doesn’t arise for himself (apparently although, small moments of revolt emerge). He prefers to maintain his head down and keep in his lane however, just like the movie captures, that doesn’t cease individuals from exploiting him. 

Grover, on this semi-autobiographical endeavor, makes an attempt to seize the lifetime of a middle-class household and does it properly for probably the most half. Whereas RK Singh is a authorities worker, Vivek’s mom Manju (Geeta Agrawal) runs their household’s PCO. The work put into scripting these characters is clear. 

Bodhisattva Sharma and Geeta Agrawal in a nonetheless from All India Rank.

All India Rank additionally incorporates an arc the place we see how a person begins to terrorise Vivek’s mother and father as a result of they rightfully rat him out. This arc lends itself to some attention-grabbing commentary – although it’s RK Singh who assaults the person, the retaliation is nearly solely aimed toward his spouse. His acts of violence are inherently pushed by the gender binary. 

However like most issues, the movie doesn’t flesh out the commentary right here. All India Rank suffers as a result of most of its arcs really feel rushed by way of. That’s particularly an issue for one purpose – the movie doesn’t supply something new. We’ve seen Kota Manufacturing unit, we’ve watched twelfth Fail, and we’ve learn the information. Most of All India Rank, consequently, turns into predictable. As quickly as you meet a personality on display, it turns into straightforward to sketch out how their arc will go. 

Even when we concentrate on Vivek’s arc alone, his trajectory leaves little to be stunned with. All the weather of a coming-of-age story are current in All India Rank – school life, discovering a bunch of pals to stay by you for the primary time, younger love, betrayal that stings greater than it would a decade down the road. However with out the novelty, the appeal can simply remodel into nostalgic boring. 

Bodhisattva Sharma and Samta Sudiksha in a nonetheless from All India Rank.

Talking of nostalgia, one factor All India Rank will get proper is the main points of its setting – each in time and geography. From the intricacies of being set in small-town Lucknow to India within the late Nineteen Seventies, the eye to element is spectacular. We hear Vivek lament about liberalisation and watch two authorities officers argue over using ‘swatantrata’ over ‘azadi’ (‘Azadi is an Urdu phrase no?,’ certainly one of them argues just for the opposite to convey up Subhash Chandra Bose). 

It’s these moments the place All India Rank makes an attempt to rise above its personal premise that hold you hooked to the movie. 


The movie’s highlights are the performances. Shashi Bhushan and Geeta Agrawal have such a straightforward going chemistry collectively that even the mundane workings of their day by day life depart you feeling emotional. Agrawal performs the dutiful accomplice to a stoic man properly – she too will get moments of revolt. 

The way in which all three individuals from the household insurgent is attention-grabbing to look at – even their methods of standing up for themselves are tainted by patriarchy.

Shashi Bhushan in a nonetheless from All India Rank.

RK Singh believes he can’t name out his boss for exploiting him as a result of he doesn’t have the identical social capital as his colleague who’s an IIT-ian’s father. Manju calls her husband out for by no means standing up for himself whereas additionally implying that he doesn’t take heed to her. 

And but, RK Singh and Manju have moments of tenderness between them that provide help to not view both of them as frequent archetypes. They’re each regular individuals making an attempt to interrupt out of the moulds society has solid them in and it is heartwarming to look at.

At the same time as Vivek tries to face as much as his father, he will get caught at determining whether or not to say ‘expensive’ or ‘revered’ papa. The one scene between the 2 earlier than Vivek’s IIT examination stands out for a way properly the director has understood his personal characters. 

Sheeba Chaddha has proved again and again that she will be able to promote any character and this time round she proves that she will be able to even promote physics. Because the trainer who mixes India’s love for Bollywood with grueling physics classes, she’s like a breath of recent air each time she’s on display. It’s good to see a little bit of background to her as properly however that’s a kind of sequences the place you realise that All India Rank is a kind of uncommon cases the place the movie may’ve been extra fleshed out to change into a mini-series. 

Sheeba Chaddha in a nonetheless from All India Rank.

Samta Sudiksha because the diligent Sarika Kumari doesn’t get sufficient of a narrative to really flesh out her character. Sarika completely loves physics and sees it as a connection to the bodily world – that side of her character makes her immediately charming in a narrative like All India Rank. However past that, there isn’t a lot the story explores about her. Her character too is as formulaic because the movie itself.

Cinematographer Archana Ghangrekar’s frames remodel you to Kota and Lucknow within the Nineteen Seventies. Whereas I are inclined to say the frames appear like work usually, these frames appear like they’ve been picked up off of stamps; like R. Ok. Laxman’s world come to life. I additionally discovered myself foot-tapping alongside to the tunes in All India Rank – Mayukh–Mainak have been credited for the unique music & background rating and Varun Grover maintains his picture as a superb author with the lyrics. 

Bodhisattva Sharma and Samta Sudiksha in a nonetheless from All India Rank.

Euler’s id comes up a couple of occasions within the movie. One thing concerning the id involves thoughts as I write about this movie. British mathematician Keith Devlin had as soon as stated of the equation that it “reaches down into the very depths of existence”. Chaddha’s character may say that’s what nice movies usually do. All India Rank makes an attempt to do the identical however in making an attempt to do an excessive amount of with too little time, it stays woefully on the floor.

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