Review: 'All India Rank' has Varun Grover finding novelty, soul & warmth in a mundane topic

You can trust Varun Grover to take an exhausted subject and still create something novel out of it.

All India Rank

All India Rank

You can trust Varun Grover to take an exhausted subject and still create something novel out of it. The celebrated writer makes his directorial debut with the film, All India Rank

As the name suggests, it portrays the journey of an ordinary and likeable teenager, Vivek (Bodhisattva Sharma) who arrives in the chaos of prepping for the extremely challenging examination of IIT. Having had the chance to see the film at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Festival 2023, here's what I thought about it-

Fighting Novelty in the Mundane


Each and every frame, right from the opening credits to the detailing of the sequences reeks of Grover in the best possible way. The man, who is always supremely articulate with words translates them to the screen and does so by being in a certain time period of 2007. The nostalgia and fragrance of your childhood when it comes to setting your compass box and getting the mood right for studies, the hostel atmosphere which is pathetic but still somehow made a place to have the best times in, the references to Fargo cigarettes, pencils, books and so on give you the flavor the film intends you to enjoy. 

The setting becomes a character in itself and rightfully so, where you're dealing with finding the novelty in mundane. It is almost fascinating how the mundane here is also the fact that we are dealing with a topic that is now done-and-dusted owing to literally every other TVF show making a subject out of a national level examination. But Grover understands this limitation really well and focuses on the heart and soul of the story and the characters. The developments might be predictable but they still make an impact just by the way they are being said.

Majority of the cast include teenagers, who have done a great job with the perfect starry cameo if Sheeba Chadha but it is actor Shashi Bhushan as Vivek's father who stands out from the lot. In so many ways, it isn't just Vivek who is growing and learning, it's his father as well and that is portrayed expertly by the actor.

The Nuances, Subtitles, Songs & Concepts


How can there be a Varun Grover project and not have nuances? The little things that are being conveyed in the smaller moments, unspoken words between characters resonate the most. Seldom do you see anyone applauding the subtitles but I do that here as makers seem to be cognizant of the fact that they need this rooted story to translate to everyone and not just the Hindi-speaking and understanding audience. The jokes and references that are so peculiar to us are expertly translated into something that connects with a global audience as well.

And Mr. Grover, can you please release the entire album of All India Rank ASAP. The songs and background score give the perfect assistance to the scenes and keep you in that mood. I cannot wait to put Noodle Sa Dil in my playlist.

Coming to the concepts that seemed a tad undercooked for me, Grover takes the decision to just brush through the topic of student suicide and even a budding teenage love story, maybe it's intentional but it doesn't quite find the right place and seems rushed.

The Verdict

In the end, Varun Grover takes a subject that is now done in several ways and forms and still finds the nerve, the beating heart of it and has you invested in the journey throughout. Also, terms like 'nasutti' and 'kunthagrast bache' are now added to my dictionary, so, especially, thank you for that.

Rating - ***1/2 (3.5/5)

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Varun Grover

All India Rank poster

All India Rank

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