Why Cheat India review:The eternally amoral Emraan Hashmi plays a man helping students cheat in a film that never finds momentum.
Why Cheat India
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwanthary
Director: Soumik Sen
The ‘Why’ is existential. India cheats. It may even be the one thing we’re good at as a people, the spirit of jugaad that ties us together and keeps this makeshift raft above water. It is hard not to be awestruck by artful dodgers, with the foresight and gall to wheedle their way through life on an impressive, unprecedented scale.
Watch Why Cheat India movie trailer here
Soumik Sen’s Why Cheat India is based on such a man, one who trumps the daunting entrance examination gateways by sending well-prepared students to answer papers for wealthy aspirants. The actor chosen for this cocky, audacious operation is ideal: the eternally amoral Emraan Hashmi.
Hashmi appears to be stifling a yawn. Apparently based on a real conman, the film travels the country to show us students diligent and debauched, but never finds momentum. The writing is flat. The wheeze is ingenious enough to fill a great film, but Sen revels in obvious filmy cliché. There is no other way to explain the film’s mastermind Rakesh Singh (urf Rocky) announcing his entry with a fight scene.
Hashmi plays Rakesh, and he’s sitting in a movie theatre to watch the 1997 film Gupt. He beats up a bunch of bullies and, before leaving the theatre, tells them a climactic spoiler that would ruin their experience of the whodunnit. This scene could work wonderfully well without the fight, demonstrating a sly, canny protagonist who knows how to strike where it hurts. Now the joke feels like a tacked-on end to a generic scene.
The film tries to appear funny without being smart. There is a running gag about the actress playing Hashmi’s relentlessly talkative wife, but the joke is not in what she actually says, just the fact that she talks a lot. There are self-contradicting old-school characters, like an inspector who sits at a police station writing FIRs but announces himself as a member of the Special Branch, but there isn’t a single memorable line.
The actors are fine, especially some wonderfully unfamiliar old men, but the film doesn’t use them right. I wish debutant Shreya Dhanwanthary — so entertaining in the web-series Ladies Room — was given more to do than make smitten eyes. The film pretends to give her a pivotal role, but never lets her be proactive.
‘Greed is good,’ Hashmi spits the line from Oliver Stone’s classic Wall Street, missing the point of how that film applauded the smoothness of the operator. Why Cheat India moralises without taking a stand. The film has three endings, indecisively shown one after the other — one of which uses a refrain to Hum Honge Kamyaab as an afterthought, pasting it on immediately after another song, diluting any potential impact. This movie doesn’t appreciate trick or trickster. It takes craft to be crafty.