Kaagaz review: Honest story caught up in clichéd melodrama

Rating: 2.5/5

Kaagaz on ZEE5 is an ambitious project helmed by a stellar cast. Nonetheless, unnecessary and perpetual melodrama destroys the essence of an honest story.


Kaagaz begins in the year 1977, embarking on the journey of a common man from Azamgarh, UP. Bharat Lal (Pankaj Tripathi) is a ‘bandwala’ whose only aim is to lead a simple life and keep his family happy.

On the prospect of increasing his business, he approaches a bank for loan. In the process of acquiring some part of his land to deposit as security, he learns that he is declared dead in 1974.

Thus begins Bharat Lal’s journey towards proving himself alive, in a land where papers mean more than a living and breathing soul.

This profound story begins on a promising note and Kaagaz hints at being an Indie film with a likewise treatment. But viewers are then greeted with a truly commercial treatment of a human interest story.


Pankaj Tripathi as Bharat Lal becomes the saving grace for Kaagaz. His name is changed as opposed to Lal Bihari Mritak whose life the film is based on.

Tripathi’s earnest efforts are visible on screen. His body language, dialect and overall demeanor do justice to his character that hails from Uttar Pradesh. Nevertheless, the film is more often than not, a waste of his talents.

Director Satish Kaushik also plays Bharat Lal’s lawyer in the film. His performance does become a reflection of his expertise, but the same can’t be said about his direction.

Amar Upadhyay plays Vidhayak Jaganpal Singh. His character is oddly introduced minutes before the climax, and even then doesn’t become a memorable one.


Kaagaz tries to deliver an important story. It not only takes up a real situation, but also fictionalizes an actual person to convey his story to the world.

The film questions the government and through a specific problem, tries to comment on the sheer negligence of authorities towards the same people a democracy is supposed to work for.

The premise is quite engaging, even though it vehemently counters its initial approach.


The trailer might have misled many people into believing that something on the lines of ‘Newton’ or ‘Gurgaon’ will greet viewers. But instead, Kaagaz crosses limits with the use of melodramatic clichés to another level.

Not for once, does it seem like it was originally created for OTT. The film was no supposed to be a biopic, but even in that dimension, it doesn’t do justice.

The editing and camerawork is visibly sloppy. Many a times, scenes are cut mid-dialogue for no justifiable reason. Even the progressions cease to develop a logical link.

Amidst ongoing court proceedings, a three-minute romantic track barges in. Similarly, an unnecessary item song is also included in the film.

Worth It?

Pankaj Tripathi’s stellar performance is the only reason why Kaagaz should be given a chance. Apart from not letting a good talent go in vain, there is no reason why one should opt for this ZEE5 Original.

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