March 11, 2013

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns

Presenting a sequel inevitably lends itself to comparisons with the previous product, especially when you know that the ‘sequel’ was created only after the first instalment garnered massive accolades all over. It’s not as if the creator (director Tigmanshu Dhulia) had an idea he would like to pan out over multiple outings (ala Nolan and the Batman movies). Yes, one must always view an entity independently…blah blah… and it would be quite unfair to compare Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns (SBAGR) with the preceding Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (SBAG). Watching SBAGR made me realise how much I loved SBAG! Forgive me for hopping back and forth between these films in this post, as I never really got down to writing one exclusively on SBAG and will use this opportunity to do that.

I have only vaguely read about but not yet seen Guru Dutt’s classic Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, the original which Dhulia adapted for Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster. Hence SBAG for me was a fresh film not carrying any baggage from its inspiration. It was deliciously wicked, kept the audience engaged and on the edge of their seats! SBAGR, sadly, is too long, un-saucy and does not pack enough punch. The decay of the erstwhile rulers is portrayed quite well but it is stretched only to indulge the director’s sensibilities.

The writers of SBAGR must be commended for some crackling dialogues and for seamlessly weaving in references to real-life incidences (*spoiler alert!* porn-watching neta, MLAs being whisked to seclusion just like how it is done after elections to prevent horsetrading, lifestyle magazines featuring spreads on crumbling palaces and interviews that evoke the erstwhile glamour and nostalgia of the ‘royal’ way of life).

The songs of SBAGR are insipid and barely do anything to forward the narrative OR entertain the viewers. An attempt to spice up the proceedings via the customary ‘item song’ fails miserably as Mugdha Godse is a totally wrong choice for it! Not only is she a hopeless dancer but also, obviously, her cleavage does not make up for lack of expressions! What could have been a fabulous satirical number given the settings (think ‘Ranaji’ from Gulaal) ends up being a forgettable comment on our media-crazy times. On the aside, apparently the music of Dhulia’s films never really leave an imprint on us, unlike Anurag Kashyap’s! Anyone remembers any songs from Haasil? Charas? SBAG and SBAGR join the same league. That’s one thing consistent in Dhulia’s works!

SBAGR wraps up with a scope/ hint for the third installation to be attempted in future. Best wishes to Dhulia and team for hopefully making a film that will redeem this second movie. SBAG had everyone involved bringing something interesting to the board which is kind of missing from SBAGR. The former had menace that truly entertained but the latter fails to make an impact of any kind. I’m craving to watch SBAG now!

SBAGR is not a bad film, it’s just not good enough!

Images courtesy: and,_Biwi_Aur_Gangster