‘Why Cheat India’ Scrutiny: Unbelievable Imitation of a Complex Problem.

Why Cheat India
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwanthary
Director: Soumik Sen

The ‘Why’ is existential. India cheats. It may even be the one thing we’re good at as a people, the spirit of jugaad that ties us together and keeps this makeshift raft above water. It is hard not to be awestruck by artful dodgers, with the foresight and gall to wheedle their way through life on an impressive, unprecedented scale.

A few years ago the infamous picture of “Bihar cheating”—people climbing up the examination hall building to pass on notes to examinees — had left many incredulous. Whether the viral picture was fake or not, the problem is real. I remember growing up in Uttar Pradesh hearing tales of proxy thesis writers and PhD providers. The central conceit of Soumik Sen’s new film then rings true — using bright and needy students to fill in for rich and not so bright ones to help them clear entrance exams for much in demand courses. Rakesh aka Rocky (Emraan Hashmi) makes an enterprise out of the examination scam.

Emraan Hashmi keeps the complex character on a tight leash even as the suave, smooth-talking conman indulges in activities that aren't merely amoral but also border on the felonious. In his suitably seedy office, the wall behind him is covered with images of sundry goddesses, but his business hinges primarily on the future of small-town boys who are under constant pressure from their parents to crack the make-or-break entrance tests and land high-paying corporate jobs.

The fraudster keeps an eye out for the toppers - there are obviously only a handful of them strewn across the country - and inveigles them into his rampant racket, which entails helping undeserving candidates from wealthy families get through the exams with the help of students who know the answers. It is a high-risk game, but the money is so good that finding accomplices willing to stick their necks out is a cakewalk.


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