Movie Review: Why Cheat India

Rakesh Singh (Emraan Hashmi) runs a scam wherein he gets brilliant students give engineering entrance exams in proxy for not-so-brilliant but rich students for a fee. Sattu (Snighadeep Chatterjee) is one such star pupil that he uses in his schemes. Sattu’s elder sister Nupur (Shreya Dhanwanthary) is smitten by Rakesh and a romance of sorts grows between the two, though he’s too much of a businessman to let emotions hold sway. The pressure of studying for his own engineering course and writing exams for others gets to Sattu. The easy money takes its toll as well. He begins doing drugs and starts hiring prostitutes. Sattu gets rusticated by his college in the process but Rakesh sets him up with a fake degree and gets him a job in Qatar. Mounting police pressure makes Rakesh shut shop in Lucknow and move to Mumbai. He’s after a bigger game now and soon sets up a network there as well. All seems to be going hunky dory for him, till one day his past catches up with him and his house of cards comes tumbling down…

It’s a known fact that every year millions give entrance exams for just thousands of seats. Students pay heavily to study in coaching classes specialising in targeting a rank. Question papers get routinely leaked. The director is attempting to question a system which has flaws and it’s inherent corrupt practises. Don’t expect Why Cheat India to do a serious expose on the grim reality though. It just skims the surface, using the subject to make a masala entertainer full of one-liners designed to win the claps of the audience.

Emraan Hashmi has made a career out of playing an OTT anti-hero and is in his element here yet again. He makes you believe in his character’s angst, especially in the first half. If only director Soumik Sen had kept the tone of the first half intact in the second half as well. While the first half is logically constructed, all logic goes for a toss in the second. Proceedings get more ludicrous by the minute. The twist, when it comes, is so convoluted that you can’t help but shake your head in disbelief.

What works for the film is the acting. Emraan and newbie Shreya have done a well-enough job and share enough of a chemistry for you to be interested in the outcome of their old-school romance. Emraan knows how to deliver punch dialogue in style and is given plenty of lines to amply exercise his talent. The film is supposed to be a satire on the education system but the bite comes when the film touches upon interpersonal relationships. Thank You For Smoking (2005) exposed the lies of the tobacco industry. Why Cheat India starts off with similar intentions but ends up as yet another potboiler. And in glorifying Emraan Hashmi’s character, it has ironically added to the problem it addresses…

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