Such incidents of job forgery are prevalent in small towns.
Based on a true story, "Mohandas" is about a shy young poverty-stricken man, played by Nakul Vaid, from a backward community who gets a much-coveted government job, only to have another cunning man (Sushant Singh) assume Mohandas's identity and take over the job. The hapless man runs from pillar to post trying to prove his identity. The well-crafted leisurely-paced narration comes to a point where Mohandas must prove his very existence.
Quite like the title, Mohandas is a film with a simple, powerful story, rarely seen in big bad Bollywood anymore. The film starts with an actual 1948 quote attributed to Mohandas Gandhi and I paraphrase, “I will give you a talisman for life… When in doubt, recall the face of the poorest man. If what you want to do is good by him, then it is alright”. Wow, what a powerful, noble thought, which sounds almost dated in our present, selfish times. A bit like the slow paced movie itself which has a realistic texture of a rural India seldom seen any more in this fast and exciting metropolitan age.
Director Mazhar Kamran gets major help from writer Uday Prakash in piecing together the curious case of Mohandas. What could have been a bland documentary-like tale of government bungling is turned into an engaging thriller where we the audience wonder how something so outrageous could happen in contemporary times.
Ironically the film's biggest strengths become its weaknesses. While the dusty, rocky atmosphere of Annupur in Madhya Pradesh furnishes the narration with that parched realism that the theme needs, it also distances urban audiences who aren't likely to have encountered the world of Mohandas first hand. And they couldn't care less.
Minus points are: Sonali Kulkarni is competent as the Delhi journalist, though she seems a bit uninvolved. Nakul Vaid looks too fair and healthy, while the couple doesn’t quite get the village accent right, and so their angst never really touches you. The film lacks a sense of redemption. The end is bitterly gloomy.
Plus points are: As Mohandas Nakul delivers a quiet and restrained performance while Sushant Singh is competent as the roughneck, a role that he has played endlessly. However, it is Uttam Haldar, playing the small town journalist, who shines through the entire film, getting the part absolutely correct.
Finally, Mohandas remains a good attempt.