Web Exclusive | Film Review

Web Exclusive | Film Review
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First Published: Thu, Jan 10 2008. 03 17 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Jan 11 2008. 08 37 AM IST
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
Producer: Suresh Sharma & Abdol Samee Siddiqui
Music: Sukhwinder Singh
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Vidya Balan, Pankaj Kapoor
New Delhi: A cocktail party has politicians, film stars, financiers, liquor barons, starlets, models, P3Ps and even a swami floating around, mouthing predictable niceties. A PYT (pretty young thing) gets murdered, almost in full view by a cocaine snorting duo.
Glimpses from Halla Bol
Glimpses from Halla Bol
Cut to the police station, the day after and all the witnesses have turned hostile. “I was not there”; “I left just before the murder”; “I was there, but I didn’t see anything” are their cold rehearsed responses. The case is shut and the culprits walk the street, in search of their next prey. Any resemblance to a party in Delhi where Jessica Lal was murdered is no coincidence.
What follows in Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Halla Bol pays a tribute to the Jessica case where culprits were bought to book, not so much because of an efficient legal system but to the awakening of the public conscience; to their taking up the cause collectively to generate a mass opinion that could put pressure on the government to open the case and re-investigate.
While the treatment of the film may have its share of cliched situations and melodrama, it makes its point, largely because of a powerhouse performance, no not by Ajay Devgan, but by Pankaj ‘Karamchand’ Kapoor.
A Chambal dacoit turned theatre activist, the look and feel of Sidhu, his character is powerful and rivetting. Add to that his dialogue delivery, kohl lined eyes and some show stopping author backed scenes and you have a winning performance by one of Bollywood’s most under rated actors. Using the medium of street theatre to raise awareness and a sense of outrage through halla bol, the film has its share of cinemtatic moments.
As Ajay Devgan’s guru back home in the village, he emerges just at the right time, when the hero needs him to take on the bad guys in town, and boy are there plenty of them! The moment our lean n’ mean hero’s conscience is ‘awakened’ and he decides to drop his, “why should I entangle myself in this messy controversy” stance, is when the film begins to meander, getting lost in cut and paste scenes and the usual menacing villainy acts with the worst of the lot being the patchy end. Pasting posters, taking out morchas and getting an omnipresent media to take up an issue, seems to be Santoshi’s mantra for a happy ending.
However, the film makes a strong pitch for India and everything Indian (in a never before comic scene that gives the tag line of ‘be Indian, buy Indian’ a new twist) succeeding in giving you paisa vasool over an otherwise drab weekend.
A demure and deglamorized Vidya Balan, as Devgan’s childhood sweetheart turned wife, provides just the right foil to his character but barring maybe one good scene, hers is more of a supporting role.
Oh yes, the film also has an awards nite, crafted much liked the Om Shanti Om song sequence which has the industy’s who’s who making a guest appearance from Sridevi to Abhishek Bacchhan, Kareena Kapoor and Tusshar Kapoor, amongst others.
While this may not be a Gangajal for Devgan, his fans are not likely to be disappointed. Certainly worth viewing, moreso if it makes some of us snap out of our convenient ‘bystander’ mode and compels us to ‘act’, ‘take charge’ and do something when a rape, molestation, bribery or an act of rioting takes place right under our noses.
The film will have an all-India release this Friday
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First Published: Thu, Jan 10 2008. 03 17 AM IST