Film Review: ‘Why Cheat India’ is a rocky ride to the murky side of education

Why Cheat India. (Supplied)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Film Review: ‘Why Cheat India’ is a rocky ride to the murky side of education

  • "Why Cheat India” follows the story of a conman, Rocky
  • Rocky is a sly, quick-talking figure, who runs an operation outsourcing entrance examinations and assignments for wealthy but dim-witted students to whizz kids low on cash

CHENNAI: Exam malpractice, plagiarism and cheating are said to be common in India’s higher education system. With hundreds of thousands of students chasing degrees in engineering or medicine, it’s an open secret that fraudsters and students alike can make good money from those desperate to gain top qualifications.

Soumik Sen’s movie “Why Cheat India” follows the story of one such conman, Rakesh “Rocky” Singh, played by Emraan Hashmi.

Rocky is a sly, quick-talking figure, who runs an operation outsourcing entrance examinations and assignments for wealthy but dim-witted students to whizz kids low on cash. The former get places at top colleges; the latter, meanwhile, are handsomely rewarded, with Rocky taking a cut of the proceeds.

Starting in the 90’s and running to the present day, it is a cold neoliberal treatise (Rocky’s closing speech, betraying no remorse, defends his business for benefitting both poor and wealthy students alike). But it is also a reflection on the hopelessness of ambition for many small-town Indians, powerless in the face of a vast, urbanized society that values money above all.

There are several compelling performances. The story of Snighdadeep Chatterjee’s Satyendra, and his rise and fall through a world of manipulation, greed and high living, is a breath of fresh air. Shreya Dhanwanthary, meanwhile, making her debut in a Hindi film, puts in an assured display as Nupur, Satyendra’s sister, who falls for Rocky’s irresistible charm.

The film is far from a hit, however. It is overwritten, and its drive to push the narrative that, ultimately, all is bleak is too tiring to engage with over the course of two hours. In addition to the overwrought script, the editing is a hatchet job; the combination of the two makes the film both disjointed and, frankly, sloppy.

What is even more concerning is that, Chatterjee and Dhanwanthary aside, the cast and characters are generic and one-dimensional. “Why Cheat India” has tackled an interesting subject matter, an area of widespread organized criminality rarely explored on screen. Yet what Sen has produced, sadly, is not a convincing portrayal, nor compelling action. It is a missed opportunity.


Archaeologists find mosque from when Islam arrived in holy land

Updated 18 July 2019
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Archaeologists find mosque from when Islam arrived in holy land

  • Authorities estimate the mosquer dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries
  • Rare to find house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers

RAHAT, Israel: Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the remains of one of the world’s oldest rural mosques, built around the time Islam arrived in the holy land, they said on Thursday.
The Israel Antiquities Authority estimates that the mosque, uncovered ahead of new construction in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev desert, dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries.
There are large mosques known to be from that period in Jerusalem and in Makkah but it is rare to find a house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers, the antiquities authority said.
Excavated at the site were the remains of an open-air mosque — a rectangular building, about the size of a single-car garage, with a prayer niche facing south toward Makkah.
“This is one of the earliest mosques known from the beginning of the arrival of Islam in Israel, after the Arab conquest of 636 C.E.,” said Gideon Avni of the antiquities authority.
“The discovery of the village and the mosque in its vicinity are a significant contribution to the study of the history of the country during this turbulent period.”