There is cinema and there is Clerk, a movie so unparalleled that it warrants its own definition, not merely its own genre. Starring an international cast of actors (from Pakistan and India), including some of the foremost names of Hindi cinema: Ashok Kumar, Shashi Kapoor and Rekha, Clerk never allows their stardom to come in the way of the story. It is quite clear that this is one movie where script and direction have ruled, and star tantrums have not been entertained.
The story redeems the humble government clerk, loathed by millions for what people perceive as his incompetence and laziness. Through the character portrayed by the peerless Manoj Kumar (in and as Clerk), we are shown the cerebral work that this "lowly" official is entrusted with and the responsibility that lies on the shoulders of this functionary. Indeed through a rather imaginative plot we realise how clerks are responsible for national security.
These brave clerks however are generally poor and ignored (like retired officers of the Army and Air Force) and live miserable lives with only enough money for cigarette packets, booze and fatty foods. Thus prone to obesity and heart disease, whose chances are worsened by sedentary desk habits, clerks risk an early end. Besides an interesting debate on reuse and recycling vs. callous disposal with a rather inventive use of cigarette lighters is also presented. Clerk is indeed a very hard hitting social commentary on the life of the Modern Man.
But wait there is more, this brave movie exhorts people to think out of the box and experiment. We see a practical example of alternative medicine which may well lead to a cheap, relatively painless and dare I say it, fun way to cure heart attacks. Brave, brave movie. The idea has been put forth, let doctors and scientists act!
Clerk is besides, a social commentary; women's position in society is actively discussed and four different stereotypes are presented for analysis. Some of them offer close analysis. Very close analysis. This movie believes in going in depth.
Emotionally charged and action packed, this movie is also a thriller which includes an assassination plot. While it may be difficult for normal movie makers to reconcile every aspect of a movie that is so deep and complex, Manoj Kumar manages to treat every part of this movie the same way. He is indeed a master.
Before one runs off to buy a DVD (very reasonably priced at Rs. 35/- by Moser Baer), be warned that this movie is heavy going, art, not for the faint hearted. The sheer emotional force, unconventional camera work and unimaginable drama makes it a difficult movie to watch and some may prefer to watch parts at 2x or more. It may be advisable to catch the heart attack scene on YouTube before watching the whole movie. A movie with several messages; one thing is for sure though, this movie once watched can never be forgotten.