International Film Festival of India

PANAJI, India -- A stark drama of capitalist exploitation, Ramesh More's "Mahasatta" ("Superpower") is an extremely realistic portrayal of what happens when workers are laid-off in India, a nation of a billion plus people with no social security or free health benefits. The film, which will endear to arthouse fans and probably play at many festivals, traces the wretched plight of 70 employees of an electricity firm thrown out with notice.

Hungry and desperate, they are victims of a relatively-recent Indian scenario of hire-and-fire management policy. The nasty face of money and muscle power is magnified, though not exaggerated, to reveal the ugly truth behind some of India's large companies that have begun to blindly ape the West where joblessness is not necessarily synonymous with deprivation and hunger.

More's protagonists are three dismissed workers, who though united in their fight, differ in their perceptions of how to tackle not just the management, but also the toothless trade union. Arvind (Avinash Narkar) and Khan (Milind Shinde) are highly emotional, and trade union leader Satish's (Sandesh Jadhav) pro-management stance appalls them, particularly because he had been a friend.

Shattered by what they perceive as betrayal of the sacked employees' cause, Arvind and Khan immolate themselves. They are hospitalized in a critical condition, and their friend and dismissed colleague, Arun (Arun Nalavade), finds himself against a formidable wall trying to raise funds for the medical treatment and pacify the distraught families.

Engagingly told with sharp cuts between the anguished hospital scenes and the events leading up to them, the narrative draws enormous energy from these smooth flashbacks and flash-forwards. Barring some moments when long discussions among the workers appear somewhat stagy, even boring, the movie sparkles with its plot and pace, and its documentary feel heightens the effect of the tragedy.

The camera moves with rare agility, and the events unfold with a kind of speed that is exciting. The performances are uniformly good contributing to the high degree of realism and the sense of poignancy. A critique of ruthless capitalist-management methods, the work is undoubtedly one of the more inspiring ones to open in recent times.

Production Company: Plus Entertainment
Cast: Avinash Narkar, Milind Shinde, Sandesh Jadhav, Arun Nalavade.
Director/screenwriter: Ramesh More.
Executive producer/production designer: Boney Travasso.
Producer: Ravi Agrawal.
Director of photography: .Aniket Khandagale.
Music: Rajesh Kamal.
Costume Designer: Yashashree More.
Editor: Vasant Kubal
No rating: 110 minutes.