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The Whistleblower Review: Fraud & Filth That Must be Told

Directed by Manoj Pillai, created and written by Ajay Monga, The Whistleblower features Ritwik Bhowmik, Sonali Kulkarni and Ravi Kishan. It is now streaming on Sony Liv.

Review Overview

General Rating

Summary

Fraud & Filth That Must be Told

It’s an important subject, resembling the Vyapam scam that hit Madhya Pradesh in 2013.

Here’s what an extract from Wikipedia says about Vyapam, the acronym for Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal which conducts entrance exams for the selection of medical students (the pre-medical test or PMT) and state government employees including police personnel, food inspectors, transport constables, school teachers, dairy supply officers and forest guards in MP.

It’s a scam that employs imposters to write papers, manipulate exam hall seating arrangements and supply forged answer sheets through a well-organised ring of businessmen, officials, politicians and policemen. The scam includes an ‘engine-bogie’ system where seating is manipulated so that a paid smarter student is placed between two undeserving ones who can freely copy from the former while the invigilator looks the other way.

One uses the present tense because Vyapam continues to be an unresolved investigation that’s also supposed to be looking at the alarming number of ‘accidental’ and ‘custodial’ deaths.   

In real life, some of the big names that have been arrested are Jagdish Sagar and the state’s ex-education minister Laxmikant Sharma. Officially, Dr Anand Rai was the whistle-blower.

Forget all disclaimers as showrunner Ritesh Modi, creator Ajay Monga and director Manoj Pillai set their 9-episode series in Madhya Pradesh, turn Vyapam into RPM (Rajya Pariksha Mandal) and Jagdish Sagar, one of the kingpins, is cast as Dr Jairaj Jatav (Ravi Kishan).

Fictionalising the real scam of MP, the plot centres around privileged young Sanket (Ritwik Bhowmik), son of upright Dean Ashwin Bhadoria (Sachin Khedekar). Sanket’s a bright and gifted doctor but, like many who take life’s advantages for granted and seek a kick that makes them stray from the straight and narrow, rave celebrations and making love to his girlfriend’s sister aren’t enough. 

Sanket doesn’t need the big bucks but he needs the kick of becoming a proxy for the undeserving. Never mind the resultant chaos of witnessing unqualified medics ruining lives at his father’s hospital or watching close associates lose their lives. 

A few hard knocks closer home are required for the kicks to stop and for reality to kick in. Before he joins hands with girlfriend Pragya (Ankita Sharma) and journalists Anoop and Zainab (Ashish Verma, Sonali Kulkarni) to do what’s right.

It is an important scam that had to be highlighted through a celluloid telling. And it does bring out the ramifications of such a scam with stark straight forwardness. There’s also a Gabbar-like signature tune that plays in the background to emphasise the visual.   

It’s refreshing to see Ritwik (also seen in Bandish Bandits last year) carry the show impressively. Casting is spot-on as all the actors keep the show going with their presence including Bhagwan Tiwari who plays awful cop Rupesh. 

Also Read: 420 IPC Review: Vinay Pathak & Ranvir Shorey’s Film Is A Deft Courtroom Drama

However, there is a Hindi film villainy evident in the writing and telling. There’s also an attempt to include too many characters and far too much into the narrative – there’s the scam in police recruitment and posting, in the printing of surreptitious currency notes and of course, the dirty politics of the state.

Talking dirty is another put-off. Using filthy abuse may be de rigueur in a web-series but the extent of verbal dirt makes the skin crawl. If a couple of characters used it, it may have been the flavour of the roles. But when filth is flung even at a board meeting and the MC-BC and effing dialogues also go into the realm of ‘Gaand dhone ki samay nahi’ followed by ‘Hagna bandh kar doge kya?’ you do wonder why fiction has degenerated into filth.

However, the enormity of Vyapam, sorry RPM, needed to be told. So do watch it. And keep your fingers crossed that in real life too, a day will arrive when the disgustingly undeserving won’t be able to occupy posts of importance.      

The Whistleblower Trailer:

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