Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns is a delicious, earthy film

Tigmanshu Dhulia is a ridiculously talented man. But whats better about him is that the man never loses touch of his earthy humor and defiant brazenness. Much respect.

2 years ago, Dhulia returned to direction after a hiatus with Shagird and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster. The latter was an interesting modern day retelling of the Bimal Mitra's Bengali novel Shaheb Bibi Gholam that shifted the feudalism and bedroom politics of Bengal to the ganglands of Uttar Pradesh. He followed it up with Paan Singh Tomar last year that has been applauded unanimously by one and all. This year, he is back with the sequel to his 2011 film which stood out only in parts despite handling its platonic relationships meticulously. And boy, he has a story to tell! This time, with his ace of spades in his hand. 

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, a peculiarly odd title, features Irrfan Khan, Jimmy Sheirgill, Mahie Gill and Soha Ali Khan. The starcast maybe a deterrent enough for many to not go to a theater and buy a ticket or just wait for Himmatwala to perform cornea gangrape on them a few weeks from now. But take no cue from that for SBAGR is an indulgently pulpy film that aims to be purely unashamed of its nature, yet providing wholesome entertainment with its cleverness. SBAGR is an urgently told film with enough meat to pack in 40 Salman Khan capers. Dhulia sets up the premise of Uttar Pradesh's dysfunctional royal families with local kings, their lascivious wives and thrilling goons without much ado, picking up the story from where the first one left. Saheb (Sheirgill) is now on wheelchair after a life-taking incident and Biwi (Mahie) has become an independent MLA. Habits die hard amongst the royals whether its voyeurism or alcoholism while they are faced with a new gangster (Irrfan) who has his own history to avenge. Every character roots from immorality building up a melange of situations that are predominantly fresh and constantly engaging. Saheb has a lot of enemies whose motives do not just end at taking his life, but more in stripping him off his power and respect. However, the screenplay by Dhulia and Kamal Pandey unfolds in the most unpredictable way lending a definite arc to all its characters punched with crackling dialogues and shining metaphors. 

SBAGR dips a bit in the post interval portions where Dhulia indulges in too much trashy humorr in an unwarranted song as well as multiple twists, almost like a Abbas-Mustan thriller except that Dhulia lends his own style to it. The overbearing condescension of Saheb, the desperate antics of Biwi, the vulnerability of an abducted bride and the applause-worthy sharpness of the Gangster etched out with much panache leave barely nothing to complain about. The masterstroke finale provides the cherry on top, if you are not yet drooling with the badassery of the cunning leads. From the tacky opening sequence to the double crossing game of politics to the lustful ways of women, the shamelessness is kept intact with an assured Dhulia never looking back or justifying the actions of his characters. Produced by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Tigmanshu Dhulia Films, SBAGR is an efficiently made film with some brilliant technicians. Yogesh Jani's cinematography is on point, and so is Rahul Srivastava's editing. The possible letdown would be Sandeep Chowta's music which halts the film unneccessarily. The Production Design and Action remain true to its earthy milieu. However, it is Dhulia's exceptionally crafted rollicking dialogues that elevate the film to fascinating awesomeness. The sequence between Irrfan and the minister (Rajeev Gupta) in his office will be remembered and quoted for long just for its smart satire and hilarity. 

SBAGR boasts of a pack of actors in top form. The indisputable Irrfan Khan is simply phenomenal lighting up the screen every time he enters. Be it his dialogue delivery, or just a simple twirl of the moustache, Irrfan courts the audience with his tremendous skill as the Gangster. Jimmy Sheirgill's dominating presence is bolstering and matches neck-to-neck with Irrfan. He is much more in form than the prequel and is undoubtedly outstanding in this one. Mahie Gill hams up and exaggerates the part of the Biwi, but never carefully stops the character from reaching a point of annoyance. Soha Ali Khan is well cast in a significant part which allows her to display her prowess. Raj Babbar, Pravesh Rana and Rajeev Gupta complete the ensemble of strong performances making SBAGR a delicious riot of a film. 

Comparisons to the prequel will be obvious with SBAGR and it will have to deal with the non-popularity of its stars. But here is a spectacularily made sequel that doesnt suffer from popular hangovers and tells an interesting tale with gamuts of entertainment. Reports say it has taken a tepid start at the Box Office but the theater I went to was surprisingly full. I sincerely hope that the word of mouth pulls this one up very soon as the numbers pour in. Indian Film Industry is doing some great stuff, and we need to stop downloading the movies and support the movement by going to a theater. For this one, its not the subtlety, its the shamelessness which works. Watch SBAGR for Irrfan, he alone would be worth the price of your ticket!

Rating - 3.5/5

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