They had us at the title.

Anshul Sharma’s superbly named comedy, written by Vijay Manral and Rupesh Thapliyal and set in Sonepat in Haryana, is about a family that resorts to desperate measures to keep its food bills down. Saare Jahaan Se Mehnga is too slight to be this year’s Bheja Fry or Welcome to Sajjanpur, but there is no doubting its relevance and sincerity.

The bad-tempered patriarch (Vishwa Mohan Badola) wants to regularly chomp on mutton; elder son Puttan (Sanjay Mishra) is barely making ends meet mating livestock at the government-run animal husbandry department; the younger, unemployed, son Gopal (Ranjan Chhabra) would rather romance the daughter of the local grocer than relieve his family’s burden; Puttan’s wife Noorie (Pragati Pandey), who runs a beauty parlour, is just about holding the family together. Puttan comes up with a harebrained idea to deal with the unending rise in household expenses. He gets a bank loan to buy enough supplies to last three years. Since the loan is actually for a small business, trouble comes knocking in the form of a hard-nosed loan inspector (Zakir Hussain).

The simplistic and limited premise is better suited to an hour-long television series episode than a full-length feature. Saare Jahaan Se Mehnga feels stretched even at a relatively short running length of an hour and 48 minutes. Yet, a mix of good-natured satire and superb casting keeps this low-budget, low-octane comedy on course.

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