Anand Kumar’s story moves you. Giving up his highly paid job as a famed Maths teacher in the most prestigious IIT coaching centre in Bihar to find and teach 30 underprivileged yet deserving kids for free against all unforeseeable obstacles is like the perfect outline for an Indian motivational cinematic banger. It had poised character arcs, a very realistic take on the privileged and those not, the always beautiful teacher-student relationship, and an incredibly strong message, all it needed was patience.
Super 30 is just too much cinema (read: drama) in a single movie. Rather than treating it as a single story with triumph as its highest point, it expects us to be emotionally challenged in every scene. Be it a Kabir Khan-esque speech every half an hour, desperate show-offs of being innovative with technology or a romantic arc which leads nowhere, Vikas Bahl wanted to climax every emotion. Now while one can think that a lot gets lost in translation and dramatisation is necessary, first half supports the argument. The second though, we are bound to lose the connection.
Despite being over-the-top, Super 30 is still very human. It treats its problems correctly and its visuals are a treat. It is a shame that a movie this well shot which leaves little to imagination stresses too much with its story. A teenage boy rising from a gutter to discover Anand’s coaching center pamphlet covered in dirt is beautiful. Everything in and around build-up the Indian hero. Parents, politics, revenge, the basics.
But what’s mind-boggling is how a small mistake messes most of that up. It was first discoverable in the trailer with little social media outrage. It seemed too early then, but little can a viewer expect it to become this problematic. The imposed brown shade over Hrithik Roshan’s face was to make him look like of the ‘inferior’ class. While the question is ethically questionable, the answer was too incompetent. One can wait and wait for Anand Kumar to go and wash his face with no success. The most appearing face of the film reminds you that it is, in fact, artificial, it is a cinematic world, that it is a movie.
Despite misfiring in tone and in totality, Super 30 sees its timed end. Clocked at 167 long minutes, one can readily associate with it being devoted to the eventful life of a genius. It is. And that is why Super 30 isn’t a bad movie by one single method. It is just regret after a misfire. ‘What could have been’ is the only question Anand Kumar wouldn’t be able to answer. It requires for Pankaj Tripathi to re-appear on the screen every time we need a realisation of the truth — that it isn’t just the primary aspects of a film that assert their importance, it is the secondary as well that let them do. The Mirzapur actor is one of those secondary aspects but probably the only that gets out of the way.
With the make-up and the made-up, it is difficult to get out of theatre being really blown away by Super 30’s intensity. A movie about inspiring could not possibly be away from being inspired to move in a single direction. It sways from using animation on the screen to explain Math problems, to a loud song for every moment. A humane movie of Anand Kumar’s struggles and triumphs still is left to be made. But now it can’t be. And that’s where, ironically, cinema lost the plot.