'Super 30,' an exhilarating sketch of life and times of mathematician to the poor

Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan plays the role of an educationist and mathematician. (Supplied)
Updated 16 July 2019

'Super 30,' an exhilarating sketch of life and times of mathematician to the poor

CHENNAI: Indian cinema has fallen passionately in love with biopics, and in recent times there has been a glut of films in the genre.

Sports stars such as sprinter Milkha Singh and boxer Mary Kom, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and politician Bal Thackeray among others have lent themselves to some gripping movies, although not always with the right choice of actor for the lead role.

The latest in this line has been director Vikas Bahl’s “Super 30,” an exhilarating sketch of the life and times of educationist and mathematician, Anand Kumar, from the Indian state of Bihar.

Son of a poor postman, academically brilliant Kumar had to throw away his Cambridge scholarship because he could not afford the passage, and later finds himself in a center coaching students to meet the tough entrance requirements of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology.

But the boys and girls are all from rich backgrounds, and Kumar despairs about the many who cannot afford such expensive tuition. So, he leaves a well-paid job and begins teaching impoverished children for free. His class has 30 pupils at a time, hence the title.

Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan plays Kumar and takes viewers through a journey fraught with excruciating suffering and physical harm from rich businessmen who see him as a threat to their own prosperity through coaching institutions for the well-to-do teenagers.

Bahl takes artistic liberties. While the real Kumar also ran an institute for the rich to fund his tutoring of the poor, “Super 30” sidesteps this to heighten the dramatic effect, emotionally enslaving the viewer.

While “Super 30” underplays the Indian caste angle, which has been a perennial impediment to higher education for the country’s poorer sections, the wishy-washy romance between Kumar and Ritu Rashmi (Mrunal Thakur, who after an excellent performance in “Love Sonia” disappoints in this latest outing) adds just about a zero to the narrative.id Glanzer, Comic-Con’s marketing chief, told AFP.

‘A Fall from Grace’ is a dark thriller with a fresh take

A still from ‘A Fall from Grace.’ Supplied
Updated 26 January 2020

‘A Fall from Grace’ is a dark thriller with a fresh take

  • Penned, produced and helmed by Tyler Perry, “A Fall From Grace" is now streaming on Netflix
  • The film tackles a rarely discussed subject — that of elderly abuse.

CHENNAI: Tyler Perry’s dark thriller “A Fall From Grace” — in which he also acts — reminded me not of Hitchcock or Agatha Christie or even Arthur Conan Doyle, but of Erle Stanley Gardner and his brilliant courtroom drama, with Perry Mason playing both lawyer and sleuth. 

Penned, produced and helmed by Perry, “A Fall From Grace,” now streaming on Netflix, is set in suburban Virginia and was shot in just five days. Middle-aged divorcee Grace (Crystal Fox) has murdered her young husband. She has even confessed to it, and it looks like an open-and-shut case. Public prosecutor Jasmine (Bresha Webb), a novice in the field, is asked by her boss (Perry) to get a plea deal from Grace. 

But when the two women meet — a much older Grace and much younger Jasmine — something does not seem right to the prosecutor, and much against the wishes of her boss and the accused, she goes about making her own investigations. 

There is a strong element of Christian faith running through the movie, and we see Jasmine tracking down Grace’s best friend Sarah (Phylicia Rashad), who also feels that there is something amiss. A series of flashbacks narrates Grace’s unfortunate story.

Disillusioned over her former husband’s affair, Grace flips for a handsome young photographer Shanon, who woos her with flowers and dinner dates. Sarah encourages her friend, and much like a Gardner plot, “A Fall from Grace” is peppered with hints and clues. Catch them if you can. But what finally turns out is a horror story of torture and turmoil.

Interestingly, the film tackles a rarely discussed subject — that of elderly abuse. It is said that 5 million older men and women are ill-treated every year in America, and “A Fall from Grace” has some disturbing revelations to show us. They are sheer horror, and the last word in human cruelty. 

The movie has its weak moments — some characters’ motivations are never fully explained, for example. But on the whole, it is a disturbing tale that will keep you hooked.