Super 30 Movie Review: Masala filmmaking wrecks this real-life story
Hrithik Roshan is terribly miscast as Anand Kumar in this templated biopic
It makes sense that a film about a mathematician turns out entirely formulaic. Regardless of that, Super 30, a biopic on Patna educationist Anand Kumar, is never quite the masala potboiler it wants to become. The emotional beats are grand but disingenuous, while the wit is hollow. More frustratingly, the background score — usually an enabler of high drama — functions as a spoiler here. This is a film too eager to give away the answers, against the diktats of its straight-laced protagonist.
Hrithik Roshan plays Anand Kumar, though we don’t see him yet. The film opens with one of his students, now an accomplished super-achiever grown into Vijay Varma, detailing his journey to a crowd. He’s speaking in Hindi — not a limitation on his part, just a precursor to another point. “I like the English language,” he says, “But growing up, it stood in our path like a rock.”
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Mrunal Thakur, Pankaj Tripathi
Director: Vikas Bahl
Linguistic disparity is the biggest problem raised in Super 30, even worse than class. The film cuts back to the past, where Anand, following an uphill origin story and having founded his disruptive IIT-coaching programme, finds a solution. He motivates his students to stage a scene out of Sholay, but in English. Lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya proffers ‘Basanti No Dance’ — a smart riff on the most famous Hindi film dialogue ever. But the film overplays this hand, and the scene becomes a clamorous sing-off between rich and poor students. Super 30 has a bad habit of running its merits into the ground.
Director Vikas Bahl’s templated thinking gets annoying. At one point, Anand faces off against his arch rival (Aditya Shrivastava). The confrontation is dramatic as it is, but Vikas needs an additional gust of wind to howl through the scene, tousling the hero’s hair. This brand of gale-force filmmaking grates with the nerdy subject, as children use math to ward off assailants while their teacher swindles people for ration. “Necessity breeds invention,” says Anand smugly, in a film clueless about both terms.
Hrithik is woefully miscast in the role. In parts where the brownface blends in, the accent bloats up. Everyone speaks with a drawl, including Mrunal Thakur’s Supriya — an early love interest whose face (to Anand’s immense disappointment) eludes the Golden Ratio. Pankaj Tripathi and Aditya Shrivastava are big-movie perfect, while the film’s best performance belongs to the quietly efficient Nandish Sandhu. There’s also Amit Sadh bumbling about, a drunk journalist standing up for his own.
In one scene, a woman falsely accuses Anand of exploitation. Coming from Vikas, who was exonerated by his producers, this rings vainly cheeky. A character briefly mentions the ‘Nalanda Mahavihara’, the great ancient university of languages and math, but the metaphor is dropped in passing, without care. The screenplay pokes into a lot (brain drain, education, land scams) in a way that feels crammy and unsubstantiated. Some facts are sidelined, while the climax is plainly ludicrous.
Anand Kumar’s legacy deserves a better assessment. This biopic clears him with straight As.