Three is destructive
When script is star, the director need not grope in the dark for drama and resolutions, for nuances. Half of Tigmanshu Dhulia’s job as director is done with the stellar script of his new film Saheb Biwi aur Gangster, co-written by him and Sanjay Chouhan. Dhulia is in control of his material (he is also the film’s producer), and the ease shows. Dhulia has earlier made an excellent political thriller, Haasil, which was also his own script.
Here too, the milieu is authentic, the characters have sinew and the dramatic graph is just right.
The writers take the kernel of the idea from the unforgettable Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (Guru Dutt and Meena Kumari) and cleverly extrapolate it on a canvas that Dhulia is visibly familiar with—a fictional princely town named Deogarh somewhere in the badass north Indian hinterland where politics, crime and wealth are inextricably linked. There’s nothing new in this that hasn’t been done by directors such as Vishal Bhardwaj and Anurag Kashyap to project hard-edged north Indian power coteries. The rottenness as well as beauty of the milieu are depicted with fondness and humour. The atmospheric crackle adds to the linear, yet engaging story.
Crackling: Saheb Biwi aur Gangster has a great ensemble cast, playing off each other in well-written scenes.
In this town, we are led into a crumbling but beautiful mansion of a nawab, Aditya Pratap Singh (Jimmy Shergill). He is the quintessential nawab living on reflected glory—“Rutba hai, rupai nahin” (there’s prestige and social status, but not money). All of us have met this man—once a prince, now trying hard to retain some of the princely trappings. Aditya’s power in the town is in decline; he is a lesser player in the local power politics that involves an Indian politician, stereotypical to the tee, an idiotic contractor and others in the money chain. Aditya’s wife, choti bahu (Mahie Gill), is a beautiful, volatile alcoholic who is frustrated with her entrapment in the mansion. She has wiles, mystery as well as mental strength, contrary to what her chauvinistic, womanizer husband believes.
Aditya’s enemies use a petty goon, Babloo (Randeep Hooda), to kill the nawab. Babloo is ambitious and deceitful, and he falls in love with the gorgeous woman considered a lunatic by everyone. A full-bodied drama of infidelity, sex, violence and pathos unfolds. The triumvirate dynamics propels the story forward towards a somewhat contrived, gunshot climax.
Saheb Biwi aur Gangster is a technically accomplished film. The music complements the hard, ruthless characters and the film’s overall tone. The cinematography by Aseem Mishra captures details beautifully without being gimmicky or superfluous. Performances by all three lead actors are equally laudable. They are a great ensemble cast, playing off each other in some very well-written scenes. Gill is an actor of calibre and can be considered a boon in our industry, where actors usually take the safe path—virtuous wife and girlfriend or overtly sexualized bimbos. Hooda and Shergill command great presence on screen; they do justice to the crackerjack dialogues.
The film’s second half has some convenient and not entirely believable turns, but the pace never slackens. It held me till the last scene. Don’t expect a noir thriller or a slow, layered mystery. It is a spicy cocktail, much within the Bollywood scheme of things. Saheb Biwi aur Gangster is an immensely enjoyable, taut piece of film-making, for anyone who loves a good sex-and-betrayal drama.
Saheb Biwi aur Gangster released in theatres on Friday.
Also in theatres
It’s a crowded weekend at the theatres with five Hindi releases. Here’s what the other four films are about
A remake of the blockbuster Tamil film ‘Kaakha..Kaakha’ with Suriya and Jyothika in the lead roles, ‘Force’ has John Abraham in the role of an anti-narcotics bureau member who has to bust a gang of drug lords. Genelia D’Souza plays his love interest in this shrill revenge drama. No match to the brilliantly executed and racy original.
Force: A shrill revenge drama.
Hum tum Shabana
‘Bheja Fry’, the first instalment, and one of India’s first multiplex hits, was director Sagar Bellary’s debut. His new film with Tusshar Kapoor, Shreyas Talpade and Minissha Lamba in the lead roles, is a romantic comedy in which the two boys try hard to win the girl’s heart, but the girl knows their intentions and takes advantage of the situation.
Dev Anand directs and acts in ‘Chargesheet’, with Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff and Riya Sen in other important roles. The octogenarian actor plays a police officer, who while investigating the death of an actress, faces impediments because of the nexus between Bollywood, the police and the underworld.
Tere mere phere
It is an absurd comedy about a newly-wed whose uncontrollable and hysterical bickerings force a pilot to return to where the flight took off from. But there is a halt to be made, which unravels the plot. It has newcomers Jagrat Desai and Sasha Goradia and Vinay Pathak and Riya Sen in lead roles and is directed by Deepa Sahi.
All four films released in theatres on Friday.