Manjunath is an Indian drama film written and directed by Sandeep A. Varma based on the true story of Manjunath Shanmugam — the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow graduate who was killed in Lakhimpur, U.P., in November 2005, for his stand against corruption and fuel adulteration.
In the hinterland of Uttar Pradesh 27-year-old Manjunath Shanmugam is a student at the state-of-the-art campus of the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow (IIM-L). After graduating, Manjunath joins a petroleum company as a sales officer. He is posted in Lakhimpur Kheri, a remote district in rural Uttar Pradesh. One day Manjunath goes missing.
His friends panic, because they know that of late he had been very disturbed and was behaving strangely. He had become serious and scared. He was different from the Manjunath they knew in college, who was always jovial, fun-loving, friendly, and a great entertainer.
One of his friends finds him, but Manjunath is frantic. They send him back to his hometown. Manjunath’s parents try to convince him to leave his job at Bharat Oil that is causing him stress. Initially he seems willing but slowly he realises that he doesn’t want to be a quitter. (Manjunath believes that, being from a top institute in the country, he has been given an opportunity. As the eldest son of a mineworker, he has had a humble upbringing.)
He realises that the kerosene, mixed with diesel, is coming from ration shops — ‘it’s the poor people’s kerosene’. In addition, he becomes conscious of the extent of pollution caused by burning adulterated fuel. He finds strength and comes back to fight, against his parents wishes.
There is a clear threat to his life, because he insists on doing his duty to stop petrol adulteration. This time, Manjunath is not deterred. He continues doing what he considers right, without worrying about the consequences. As a result, one night he gets brutally killed by the people who are harmed by his doing his duty. His family and friends suffer over his death. They wonder why he put himself in so much danger.
Slowly, the worst fears start coming true. Beyond the initial grief, no one wants to come forward to carry on the fight.
In the film, Manjunath is shown watching what happens after he dies. He is starting to feel that it is all pointless. He cannot watch his parents’ tears any more: What was their fault? Maybe he should have compromised. But how can people not see what he has? What he fought was something very big and very important.
Suddenly, people who have no connection to him realise the importance of what Manjunath did and start trying to do something. Like novices, they search their way around: Their will is strong. They start getting help again from unexpected quarters. It is nerve-wracking, with dangers for everyone. Then, instead of one or two, there are a lot people helping. Manjunath, who has lost hope, realises that it’s not all going waste.
He hopes and prays that they succeed.
The film cuts back and forth from a rock concert. The conflict of the story is not whether Manjunath lived or died, but if the effect of Manjunath lives or dies, and in the end that’s the victory.
Sasho Satiiysh Saarathy as Manjunath
Divya Dutta as Anjali Mullatti
Seema Biswas as Manjunath’s mother
Kishor Kadam as Manjunath’s father
Yashpal Sharma as Golu Goyal
Rajesh Khattar as Raina, Manjunath’s boss
Asif Basra as Devendra
Anjori Alagh as Sujata
Faisal Rashid as Gautam
Gireesh Sahedev as H.Jaishankar
Vineet Kumar as I.B. Singh
Shishir Sharma as Golu’s father
Saksham Dayma as Inspector Shukla
Nalneesh Neel as Paanwala