Cast: Sasho Satish Saarthy (Manjunath Shanmugham) Yashpal Sharma (Golu Goyal), Anjori Singh (Sujata), Faisal Rashid (Gautam, Manjunath’s friend), Karan Ashar (Undy, College friend), Asif Basra (Devendra), Seema Biswas (Manjunath’s mother), Kishore Kadam (Manjunath’s father), Divya Dutta (Anjali), Rajesh Khattar (Manjunath’s Boss), Anand Nandakumar (Manjunath’s brother), Om Prakash (Lallan), Girish Sahdev (Jai), Shishir Sharma (Golu’s father)
Genre: Biopic, Drama
Direction: Sandeep A Varma
Production: Viocom 18 Pictures
Studio: Viocom 18 Pictures,
Story: Based on the true story of Manjunath Shanmughan
Editor: Sandeep Francis
Release Date: 9th May, 2014
Duration: 2 hours 07 minutes
Manjunath, a biopic by the debutant director Sandeep A Varma (advertising film-maker), is an effort to bring into light the true life story of Manjunath Shanmugham. Nation was shocked at the gruesome murder news of a 27-year old Indian Oil employee Manjunath Shanmugham (an IIM-Lucknow graduate) on 19th November, 2005. He was shot dead by a Petrol Pump owner Pawan Kumar Mittal and his associates in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, when Manjunath tried to fight the corruption and expose the petrol pump owner’s efforts to sell adulterated fuel. Manjunath had even got his petrol pump sealed once. Although the main accused Pawan Kumar Mittal was sentenced to death by the Sessions court, it was later commuted to life imprisonment by Allahabad High Court. The Court acquitted two co-accused, Harish Misra and Sanjay Awasthi, while maintained the life imprisonment of five others in the case.
My effort is not to review this movie, since it is really challenging to review such movies, because, this is about somebody’s life. The person has gone through lot of pain, anguish, fear, threat, helplessness. The very truth of the incident, the loss to his family and other near and dear ones definitely touches our hearts, moves us. It is so sad to see that one is taught ‘Ethics’, ‘Moral Science’ since childhood, but when it comes to infuse ethos into the profession, or practice the ‘ethics’ which one has learnt, he or she has to bear the brunt.
The movie is being narrated by Manjunath himself, effortlessly portrayed by Sasho Satish Saarthy. A very happy-go-lucky Manjunath, fondly known as ‘Macha’, is being shown in IIM-Lucknow campus sharing wonderful equation with friends Gautam (Faisal Rashid), Sujata (Anjori Singh), Undy (Karan Ashar) etc. Very light-hearted moments. Manjunath and Gautam are at the top of the world on clearing the campus interview of Bharat Oil. Manjunath as a marketing manager learns the fuel adulteration in Golu Goyal’s petrol pump (excellently portrayed by Yashpal Sharma). Golu tries to bribe Manjunath, and on failing, threatens Manjunath. Manjunath who used to be once a happy-go-lucky person, turns out to be paranoid. His friends mistook him to be suffering from schizophrenia. He takes a short break from job and goes to his village, where some lovely moments projecting the bond amongst the family members – mother (Seema Biswas, a great performance from her), father (Kishore Kadam), and siblings are shown. He decides to go back for his job. Although parents want him to take up some other job at Bangalore, but it is heart-rendering scene that when he made up his mind, his mother accompanied him and father gifted him a Bhagwat Gita.
Manjunath, on learning that Golu Goyal has not mended his ways, tries to warn him and that leads to a series of threats to his life. Manjunath tries to connect with his friends and Boss (Rajesh Khattar) and informs them about the oil mafia, but his efforts go in vain. He understood that the network is spread much beyond his imagination. He tries to understand the logic that why diesel is adulterated with kerosene and how much profit the petrol pump earns. Though Manjunath had a choice to ignore the adulteration, but he could not act against his conscience. We might say that he should have taken his organization or colleagues into confidence, but who knows, probably he tried to get the buy-ins for his fight, but could not manage to get.
What happens later is really very tragic. Manjunath is being trapped by Golu Goyal and shot dead. The movie does not stop there. It shows the IIM and IIT students protesting to get justice for Manjunath, charge-sheet filing by Anjali and Jai (Divya Dutta and Girsih Sahdev, an IIM-Lucknow Alumni), handing over the compensation to Manjunath’s family, a condolence meeting held at IIM-Lucknow campus, the accused being convicted etc.
Manjunath, a must-watch movie, tells the story of an unsung hero who listened to his conscience.