Noblemen movie review: A hard-hitting high school drama

Things go from bad to worse when he is chosen to play the lead role in a play to be performed on the school’s founders day: Baadal (Grover) believes the role is his, and enlists the services of prime bully sports captain Arjun (Mir) to that end. Advertising

Just how terrible the outcome can be is evident in the way it impacts Shay and his best friend Ganesh (Thakkar). The play-within-the-movie device is not as effective as the stuff that goes outside, in dorms and classes and bathrooms: the all-powerful sports captain having the gall to tell off teachers, the guy who punishes ‘pansies’ but who could well be a closet homosexual, the brash entitled offspring of a celebrity father, the bright boys who learn to keep off the bullies’ radar till they can’t, the lone girl who is a real pal – all these characters are expertly drawn, and the actors play them with conviction. Noblemen pulls not a single punch in the telling of its tale, set in a plush all-boys boarding school pervaded by the fear of a bunch of bullies who prey upon younger, softer students, coupled by the equally pervasive notion of ‘not being a rat’ which keeps it all going. That boarding schools (Noblemen is a very thinly-disguised stand-in for one of India’s most prestigious all-boy schools, which enroll female students if they happen to be offspring of teachers) are rife with old practices of hazing and ragging, which are meant to turn boys into men, is well known. Bullying, phsaw; it is only to toughen up the boys, declares the deputy head-master (Rodrigues), and the head master (Raina) has to finally decide which side he is on. Meanwhile, the damage is so awful and cruel that you are left shaken. Shay (Haji) is just the kind of boy who gets picked on: bad at sports, good with words, empathetic. You wish that the director had thought of a more believable climax. It’s as simple as that, and as hard to deal with, when you are at the receiving end. The film takes us close into the closed world of prestigious boarding schools and the toxic, misguided notions of honour, wide-spread homophobia, and the persistent harassment, verbal and physical, stretching to sexual torture, of those who cannot hit back. 0
Comment(s) Kapoor’s drama teacher is the one standing in between the bullies and the bullied: he is the one speaking up against these entrenched ‘ways’, and ironically being targeted himself in a manner of speaking. It is the only jarring note in a film which focuses on such an important subject, with such clear insider knowledge and authenticity. Advertising

Bullying can kill.