Super 30 is the cinematic story of real-life maths whiz Anand Kumar and his annual project of mentoring poor, under-privileged students for the rigourous entrance examination for the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology centres.
Set inKumar's home state of Bihar, it seems this biopic has a script with a simple winning formula. The end result may have to resit the test.
The Vikas Bahl-directed film sees Hrithik Roshan play the rustic genius who was deprived of studying at the University of Cambridge due to financial restraints in 1994.
Since then Kumar has been teaching 30 children in poverty a year for the IIT-JEE tests. About one to three per cent of children pass the tests, but Kumar's charges boast a 80-100 per cent success rate.
In the film Super 30, Roshan scores quite high in emoting an array of facets that make up Kumar; his disappointment of being denied in life; his mischief with love interest Supriya (Mrinal Thakur of Love Sonia fame); excitement of passing his knowledge to students, and hints of subservience when being treated badly by a minister (Pankaj Tripathi) and his rivalry with another coach, played very well by Aditya Srivastav.
Thakur and Amit Sadh, who plays a supportive journalist, get limited play, though, in a script which must focus on Roshan.
The script lurches awkwardly at times, at the cost of introducing songs with efforts overdone to make the lyrics filled with terms from maths and science.
That said, the song Question Mark is tastefully done with diagrams and some VFX as well.
While the dramatisation of the plot, written by Sanjeev Dutta, looks like the easy part of this task, the film really stumbles over the controversy of Roshan playing a dark-skinned academic in the rugged locales of Bihar. And this is where the film fails to establish a connection.
In the pre-release interviews, Roshan sounded offended and even termed related talk after watching the trailer as “racism”.
He has been selective with his interviews after getting questions mailed to his public relations team given the added reason that the actor has been fighting legal battles about the film as well as in personal life. Detractors of Anand Kumar have filed claims that he takes money and does not coach entirely for free.
In his career, the handsome Roshan, has impressed in roles where action and dance have been prominent. With Super 30, he has made a big jump to prove he is an all-rounder actor after decent performances with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Kaabil.
Like any biopic, the cinematic liberty masks some aspects of Anand Kumar, but there is no doubting a noble cause where education for all in India is still a work in progress despite the achievements of many Indians on the global stage. Roshan’s film is a good reminder that much homework needs to be done.