We live in corrupt times and how?! Well done Abba reminds us of that and more. It reminds us of the gravity, the irony and our own submissiveness to the whole do. Would have worked much better if it were about an hour shorter.
Anyone who has spent even a little time in trying to get any work done from a corrupt, bureaucratic government will relate with the film. The issue at hand here might be more serious and even larger, but it's easy to identify with the protagonists, Armaan Ali (Boman Irani) and Muskaan (Minissha Lamba). A standard beginning that sets the tone for the narrative; a slow and frustrating build-up - as if we should feel the characters' emotions; an interesting twist post-interval; a few irrelevant sub-plots; and an out-of-place climax make the film just about watchable.
The only reason to watch the film would be to take a peek into the exasperating process of getting any administrative work done that involves government approvals and the trick used to show the system the mirror. The funniest bit is that, like one would expect, the the bureaucrats' and politicians' completely see through the point. Master stroke in the sotry-writing department.
The most fascinating element for me in the film was the Andhra accent in which Hindi is spoken. It completely highlights the rural setting too. Having spent a lot of my summer vacations in that region, the language brought along its share of nostalgia and thus fondness. That doesn't make the language or dialect consistent, but it is used well in large parts. The dialogues are plain-speak and yet not the boring types. They keep you engaged through.
The other department that makes this film worth its while is the performances. Minissha Lamba is simply brilliant as the strong-headed village girl. Both, her language and her looks are completely in tune with her character. Boman Irani too is completely convincing, but we wouldn't have suspected that anyway, right?
The put-offs though were the various side-plots. The milieu here is very similar to that in Welcome to Sajjanpur by the same director. But the not-so-main stories in that one were extremely engaging. Here they are extremely annoying. Right from the Engineers lust for his wife, to the woman-trade, to the look-alike brother. They took away more than what they added to the ambience.
These plots also lengthened the film by a lot more than what could have been a brilliant light film on a serious issue. Though they might have served the purpose of adding a few more smiles because I did hear a lot of laughter from the audience.
I'd suggest a wait until the movie is out on TV/DVD just because it does call for the patient audience in you. The treatment given to the dry subject is refreshing and won't be a complete waste of time.
- meetu, a part of the audience