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More a Stage-show than Film

  • Ankur Pathak

    Ankur Pathak (50 DM Points)

    Desimartini | Updated - February 24, 2014 11:21 AM IST
    3.2DM (216 ratings)
    Chala Mussaddi - Office OfficeRelease date : August 05, 2011

    The noble intentions might be at place. And prevailing hypocrisy laced with corruption is what you have attempted to translate into a film. The television version was highly praised. The actors mostly theatre veterans are there too (playing multiple roles).

    But this packaging consisting of all the right elements somehow doesnt ring a fine tune. It is all too chaotic and too televised for it to be taken seriously and it tries hard to be elaborate enough.

    Pankaj Kapoor reprises the role of Mussadi Lal, a retired school teacher - a feat he has to yell repeatedly. His wife - an absolutely healthy looking Farida Jalal, is almost dying, seemingly of back pain (Wo-ho). After her death, Mussadi Lal goes to dispose off her ashes at the Hindu pilgrimage places. Meanwhile, corrupt officers from the pension office pass him as dead, allegedly to swipe away his last treasures. The plot revolves (literally) around Pankaj Kapoors Mussadi frustratingly trying to prove that he is alive, and his pension be released. Jobless son, played by a very bad Gaurav Kapoor, isnt actually of any sort of help.

    The deal with the film is the treatment of the drama that at times is heightened so much, it stops bearing any kind of realism, resembling a street-theatre act. The film opens frantically, with black and white clips establishing the usual endless plight of the common man which has no solution in sight. However, in one sequence a haggard and a fed-up Pankaj Kapoor walks solo towards the India Gate, and when one of the son says, "Papa, its pitch dark", he sheepishly replies, "Beta, I can see some light".

    That is the problem. It is hard to have believability in this drama. The inept direction hobnobs as the film sincerely reaches its twin plot-points; the dialogues - they sound so contrived and painfully written, at parts they clearly appear achingly memorized and noticeably rehearsed and are yelled at you.

    Some added sub-plots could have made the film considerably better. But there arent. Its a vicious circle, and it is often all too repetitive. You know how the archetypal reactions are going to be, and the actors - though an extraordinarily talented bunch consisting of Sanjay Mishra, Hemant Pandey, Manoj Pahwa, Deven Bhojani and of course the one who represents our collective angst and helplessness with inimitable ease - Pankaj Kapoor - cannot save this achingly tedious stage show.

    Rajiv Mehra directs this one and it is abrupt and to the face. Mehra doesnt believe in adding layers, making his film look very superficial.

    The best part about the film is that it gets over too quickly.

    A scary-looking Makrand Deshpande constantly disrupts the narrative, lyrically trying to highlight the pitiful state of the aam-aadmi. Well that says it all.

    We all are well-aware of the painful process, the dampening bureaucracy and the namesake democracy; we just dont want a visual demonstration - at least not a badly, hurriedly and boringly made one.

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