Sunday, October 09, 2011
#215: Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster
First things first, this is not a remake of the Gurudutt film Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam.. At best, it takes a couple of key characters from the old classic and places them in a modern but semi-rural India. So, the haveli still makes a return as does a philandering Saheb (Jimmy Shergill). What's different is we have a morally loose wife played by Mahie Gill and instead of the earnest Ghulam, there's a new character named Bablu who plays a lovestruck Gangster (Randeep Hooda).
Written by Sanjay Chauhan and Tigmanshu Dhulia, the film's story begins with the first signs of a power struggle between Saheb and an emerging rival Gaenda Singh (Vipin Sharma) who is fighting Saheb tooth and nail for new infrastructure contracts. We see Saheb as a figure villagers fear and respect but deep inside Saheb is worried about him not having any great material fortunes left. While for Saheb, winning these contracts is a matter of finding funds for his extravagant lifestyle, for Gaenda Singh it is a matter of seeing Saheb ground to dust. We're soon introduced to Mahie Gill who very clearly is not Saheb's favorite woman because he chooses to spend his nights with another lady Mahua (Shreya Narayan). Biwi comes across as an epileptic/psychotic lady with burdens of a past that don't come to fore until the second half of the movie. Randeep Hooda, the gangster working as Gaenda Singh's mole, is assigned as Biwi's driver for a short period and that leads to a simmering romance between the two. With only her mute caretaker (Sonal Joshi) as her confidante, Biwi spends most of her time drinking. By the second half, the story moves towards resolving the romantic liaisons and the rivalry between Gaenda Singh and Saheb.
The good thing about the first half of SBAG is it's fast paced screenplay thats flits between the lives of these key characters seamlessly. The characterization is neatly established and and topped with the cherry of a powerful performance by Jimmy Shergill. He must count as one of the most credible and underrated actors of the industry today. The enigma of Biwi's character is brought out neatly by Mahie Gill and hers is the character arc that leads the story in the second half. Randeep Hooda packs in a punch with his joker-in-the-pack act and with words such as "Mauka-tarian" (opportunistic) thrown in to describe his character, he's given a free hand by the writers. Overall, the performances including those by the supporting cast of Vipin Sharma, Deep Raj Rana and Deepal Shaw don't disappoint one bit. Where SBAG misses a beat is the last fifteen minutes where too many things begin to happen too quickly. The power struggle and the romantic angle predicatbly get intertwined but don't resolve themselves satisfactorily. Dhulia's storytelling right uptil that point is top-notch. Dhulia, as is his forte, also brings in that old-world feel of verbal one-upmanship that's so missing in our movies these days and does give us his audiences some of those whistle-moments.
I have noticed that Dhulia in spite of his commendable pursuit to wean away from the ordinary somehow seems to lack that final knockout blow that makes a movie truly memorable. This is the second movie of his I saw this year after Shagird and I saw a similar lacuna with that movie too. Nonetheless, SBAG is well-worth your time and money. Just don't book the gold-class for this one though.