Play It Again, Mummyji

Movie: Bajate Raho

Starring:  Tusshar Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Ranveer Shorey,Ravi Kissen, Brijendra Kala

Directed by Sashant Shah

Rating: *** (3 Stars)

For the second time this week Ravi Kissen gets it bang-on. Playing a vicious entrepreneur with a marriageable daughter, Kissen is an energetic ball of agile evil.

The same goes for the rest of the arresting ensemble cast of very capable actors who get into the mood of the con-job without fuss and with a flair for acting funny without toppling over into parody.

I call it Fukrey-land.Welcome again to the comic world of lovable losers. The starcast here is older if not wiser than in Fukrey. Mummyji(delightfully droll Dolly Ahluwalia) and her family of sons and son-like wanderers must redeem the family honour. Hence we encounter  a series of con-jobs which involves vicious builders, bankers, caterers and middlemen.

Delhi has been projected  as a hotbed of wheelers and dealers , schemers and screamers in several recent films. This is director Sashant Shah’s Challo Dilli  all over again though in a totally different context. Bajatey Raho had the potential to crack the dark-comedy genre . The plot about elaborate con jobs implemented by middleclass citizens has earlier been done with tongue-in-cheek derision in Dibakar Bannerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla and Neeraj Pandey’s Special Chabbis.

Here the laughter is drowned in a whole lot of unnecessary back-projection and emotional history. Why couldn’t Mummyji and her gang be up to their money-minded mischief  and con antics  just for the fun of it? Why the sob story to prop the impropriety?

Not that the storytelling lacks a warm self-mocking humour.When the script sets its heart in it  some of the characters are positively—or do I mean negatively—brilliant in their believability.The tv actor who speaks in the third-person about himself, the principal of a school caught accepting a bribe in a sting operation,the foreigner mistress of  the slimy tycoon who attends a Mata Ki Chowki where a parody ofSubah hone na de tu mera hero from the film Desi Boys is played as a Bhajan…

This happens only in India.

The film is crammed with interesting characters played by interesting actors. But at the end of it all, you aren’t sure if all of them belong in this film.

Ravi Kissen as the slimy tycoon who becomes putty in the pretty Vishakha Singh’s hands is outstanding. Brajesh Kala as his Man-Friday is even more so .Brajesh Kala’s Bagga is a yes-man who is now tired of being kicked around.We catch this character at a critical transitional  phase in his life.We know he will explode.And he does.

Other actors suffer from roles that are either under-written or over-performed, depending on which phase of the serio-comic narration he or she is required to sustain. There are signs of intelligent writing everywhere. But the material sags for the lack of a sincere motivation.The climax with Dolly Ahluwalia posing in a white wig as Mrs Hansal Mehta(!!!) is laughably short of humour.

Nonetheless Bajatey Raho does give us a few chuckles even while delivering a rap on the knuckle to thenaqalchi wannabe rich middleclass in Delhi .

This is a dig at the Gurgaon quick-rich culture.But the taunt gets lost in an aimless jaunt.

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Subhash K. Jha(born 2 Nov 1959) is a Patna-based veteran Indian film critic, journalist, editor, film trade analyst and author of The Essential Guide to Bollywood. He writes for over 45 papers and websites including SKJBollywoodnews.com.

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