While it may be unfair to judge a book by its cover or a film by its poster, there was something about Eros International and Multi Screen Media's latest offering that promised a laugh riot. The Bajatey Raho trailer paved the way for what seemed a social satire on corruption. Director Shashant A Shah with precedents like Dasvidaniya and Challo Dilli, and his recurring actor Vinay Pathak, could have had a hattrick.
Instead, you get this film.
Mohan Sabharwal (Ravi Kissen), an unscrupulous businessman lets his honest bank employee Ravinder Baweja and his assistant Saira take the rap for a dubious banking scheme his bank has flouted. Innocent investors lose their money, collectively to the tune of 15 crores. Baweja dies from the shock, leaving his grieving but determined family of Jasbir Baweja/Mummyji (Dolly Ahluwalia), Sukhi (Tusshar Kapoor), Balli (Ranvir Shorey) along with Sukhi's girlfriend Manpreet (Vishakha Singh) and Saira's husband Mintoo (Vinay Pathak) with the burden of repaying the debt. Together, they get ready to pay the ruthless tycoon back in the same coin.
The film held great promise with the stylishly cut opening montages, but that's where the joyride ends. Most sequences in the film are essentially extensions of what one saw in the trailer. Which means most of the plot and outcome will become clear in the initial reels. Protagonists pull off elaborate yet unintelligent cons with such effortless ease, despite not having much money. And the characters getting conned do not seem to have heard of background checks. Even a child would question the glaring loopholes.
You could not really care less for any of them, either. There is no build-up or defining scene that could explain Sukhi and Manpreet's sudden jump from mere acquaintances to lovers. Mintoo's interaction with his wife Saira and Balli's involvement in the plot without an effective backstory seems odd.
A lot of the story is half-baked. Although the film moves at a decent pace, you could not care less after a while. The climax is particularly ludicrous, with all characters washing some of their very dirty linen publicly.
Music by Jaidev Kumar, RDB, Honey Singh, Gajendra Verma and Vikram Singh is the mainstay of the film. The farcical Mataa ki Chowki scene and the Naagin song are possibly the best moments one would get to see. Some sleeker editing (Aseem Sinha) could have taken the film a notch higher. The dialogue for a film of this genre should have been funnier; Akshay Verma has essentially taken recourse to clichéd sms humour to bring out the laughs. Unfortunately, even those do not come.
Story writer Zafar A Khan had an interesting premise to build upon, but sadly he did not do it justice.
Nor did Tusshar Kapoor's lacklustre performance as he stares listlessly in some scenes and labour through his Punjabi in others. Vishakha Singh, on the other hand, puts in a lively performance. Dolly Ahluwalia is the best of the lot, as the enterprising mother and overall mastermind. Vinay Pathak is wonderful as always. So is Ranvir Shorey, though one wishes he had more screen time. Ravi Kissen put in a good performance. Brijendra Kala as his assistant Bagga is excellent. A special shout-out to child artiste Husaan Saad for his role as Kabootar. The rest of the cast puts in a decent performance.
We give the film two stars, disappointed in the potential that the film could have lived up to. Producer Krishika Lulla and Eros International had previously given the audience the superhit Raanjhanaa. This film does not come close by a quarter. Do wait for the DVD or television premiere to see this one.