Satish Kaushik’s work of love drives home the predicament of a common man facing an administrative system that flourishes with destroying the already dispossessed further into the ground.
When a character in Satish Kaushik’s Kaagaz points out Bharat Lal (Pankaj Tripathi), a bandmaster, to take a loan to expand his business, the latter gets over him saying, “Yeh karza joh hai na woh kutte paalne jaisa hai, kehne ke liya suraksha karta hai, par roz bow bow karke roti maangega. Jo ek din roti na do toh kaat de.” Still, Lal ends up at a nearby bank for a loan, just to find a misfortune sitting tight for him. However, for the crowd, there’s a lot of laughs and something to think about.
Both Pankaj Tripathi and the dead-on-paper wedding bandmaster that he plays in Kaagaz face a tough undertaking. The lead actor has to carry the weight of the whole film on his shoulders. He does so gamely, occasionally permitting his typical character to understate style to clear a path for a more illustrative method of acting. He pulls off the ‘to and fro’ movement between the two poles without allowing the strain slowly.
Kaagaz starts with the voiceover of Salman Khan discussing a poem that discusses how paper plays a significant job in our lives. We are then acquainted with Azamgar-based bandmaster Bharat Lal (Pankaj Tripathi) and his family, which includes his better half Rukmini (Monal Gajjar) and a child. On his wife’s demand, when Bharat lands up at a bank to take a loan for business reasons, he finds out that he has been declared dead according to the records because of a conspiracy by his conniving family members in an offer to take his resources.
Not someone who keeps mum, Bharat Kumar ‘Mritak’ decides to uncover the glaring truth about the distress of people who have been declared ‘dead’ on paper despite being alive because “Maan samman, pehchan ki ladai hai ab.” With the assistance of a lawyer Sadhram (Satish Kaushik), a journalist Sonia (Neha Chauhan), and a deft politician Ashrafi Devi (Mita Vashisht), Bharat Kumar decides to fight the system to demonstrate his existence.
At a point in the film, Bharat Kumar brings up a relevant issue by saying, “Aap Kaagaz ki sunegen ki insaan ki sunegen? Dil insaan ke seene mein dhadkat hai ki Kaagaz mein dhadkat hai? Baal bachcha mehraru…Kaagaz ke hoth hai ki insaan ki hoth hai?” Moreover, regardless of a couple of irregularities on paper, it’s Pankaj Tripathi’s trustworthy performance that revives Satish Kaushik’s humorous interpretation of the battle of the ‘living dead’.