wogma rating: Watch when on TV/online (?) - Those who like laughing in a crowd can catch it on the big screen.
Satish Rajwade’s Badam Rani Gulaam Chor is a film that hides a concept that had the potential to blow your mind. Since the makers squandered away the opportunity to make a memorable film, what we end up with is a fairly enjoyable little flick that isn’t half a bad watch. It has enough funny moments to still make it worth your while.Read more
Despite the impressions that social and online media seem to be giving, there were other films that released this week as well, ones that did not have a caped crusader as their main protagonist. One of them, Mumbai Pune Mumbai director Satish Rajwade’s latest film, Badam Rani Gulam Chor, is an interestingly written and narrated film that is engaging for the most part, even if it often transgresses into being a tad silly.
Upendra Limaye, Anand Ingale and Pushkar Shrotri play three friends who live together in a house named ‘Unbreakables’, something that supposedly signifies the nature of their friendship. What their characters have been named doesn’t matter, because they refer to each other as ‘Chaku’ (knife), ‘Maakad’ (monkey) and ‘Pustak’ (book), respectively. Enter Mukta Barve, nicknamed ‘Pencil’ - a woman who is destined to change their lives for good. Simultaneously, Anand Ingle’s character works at a news channel, which is currently covering a major political story, a bust up between two politicians who belonged to the same party.
There is inherently nothing new about either of these stories by themselves. But start watching them together, start seeing near-metaphysical connections between them, start drawing parallels between the two and suddenly they seem to be far more similar to each other than it appears on the surface.
These two story lines, the parallels drawn between them and the sheer thought behind intertwining them to tell a story is what sets this film apart. In fact, at the concept level it is a stroke of sheer genius. A tantalizingly intelligent use of a medium whose power is currently in shackles because it is easier to do what has been done and make money than pushing the envelope at the risk of losing it.
Using comedy backed by strong performances, the film tries hard to do justice to this thought, and achieves it in some measure, but not completely. The reason? Instead of going full throttle on the concept of connecting two seemingly disjoint stories by using the power of narrative and editing, the effort seems to be more on providing a screwball comedy instead. Not a bad idea at all, but one that ends up affecting the basic premise.
Still, Badam Rani Gulam Chor manages to have the audience in splits for the most part, not least because of some razor sharp dialogue and some extremely talented actors mouthing them. Limaye, Ingle and Shrotri are in top form, looking and feeling like their characters all the way. True, they almost seem to walk around with signboards bearing their character sketches on it, but that in part adds to the charm of it, the fact that at least the director didn’t hold back on how far over the top he was taking the things.
Yet, it feels like a promising film that went unfulfilled. The concept and narrative technique needed a more evolved vision and guiding hand to take it to fruition; the will to hold back when required and to go all out when the need arose; the realization that such an opportunity, material like this, might not arise tomorrow, so why not make the most of it now.
Badam Rani Gulam Chor is the kind of film that, had it been treated right, would have made for an intimate, stimulating watch, a home video cult. As it stands, it is a series of smart-and-silly laughs that would make for passable weekend viewing on the tube or a family outing at the theatres.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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