The film would have had a higher impact and captivated audience imagination several degrees more had the statistics, which rolled out just before the end credits, been revealed during the opening stages of the film. Sample a couple – the market share of coaching classes in India is estimated at a staggering Rs. 45,000 Crores! Or that the employment percentage of engineering students is less than 9 per cent of the successful ones!
And if one was unaware of the storyline of the film, the chances are that the title would have misled you. A comma after Cheat would have served its purpose well. The film opens a couple of decades ago in Jaunpur, UP, before traversing through to Kota, Jhansi and then to present day Mumbai. Rakesh Singh alias Rocky (Emraan Hashmi) is a suave, street-smart operator whose sophisticated manipulation includes manipulation of marks, substitution of candidates and forgery of marksheets and certificates. One of those gullible students is Satyendra Dubey (Snighadeep Chatterjee), a top-ranker in the entrance exam who’s felicitated by the locals and monetarily rewarded by Rocky.
It’s an out-and-out Hashmi film and every dialogue of his ends with a disarming smile. And Emraan does his reputation no harm with a smooch on Satyendra’s sister, Nupur’s lips (Shreya Dhanvantary in a hugely impressive Hindi feature debut) for whom it was love at first sight. Snighadeep Chatterjee shows promise and even the supporting cast cannot be faulted.
It’s an opportunity lost for Soumik Sen, who’s written the screenplay too. He would have done well to have omitted the songs and the unnecessary scenes of hookers sharing screen-time with the students. It’s a unidimensional theme, viz that of subjugating and subverting the Indian education system, where marks is the sole criterion. There are no less than six songs – none notable – with as many composers.