In changing times when Hindi films spoken language is dominated by Hinglish, what should be the reaction to a film having splendid control on the lines (cutting across two of the biggest states of the country) as well as their correct diction? Grab it with both hands…
Krishna (Vidya Balan) is somewhat happily married to Vidyadhar Verma (Aadil Hussein) in some interior of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Verma is wanted in criminal cases and Krishna keeps persuading him to surrender and get his slate clean; because witnesses don’t exist against his more heinous deeds and she is sure that he will be let off with light punishment. Verma reluctantly agrees, but before any step can be taken, a gas cylinder blast rips apart their world. Krishna loses her husband and then on she lives with the sole motive of revenge. Waiting like Thakur Baldev Singh in search of Jai and Veeru.
Khalu Jaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and his Bhanja Babban (Arshad Warsi) are petty criminals from Bhopal, who managed to run away with the booty of Khalu’s gangster Jijaji Mushtaq bhai (Salman Shahid) but he finds them. They manage to escape again and plan to cross the border to Nepal. Not getting any other place for shelter, they reach Gorakhpur to take help from their old friend Verma, only to know that he is no more. Krishna allows them to stay at her place till they succeed to cross border. She manages to charm them – Khalu, through her musical vocal chords, and the bad boy Babban, occasionally by healing his sour thumb and treating his stomach upset. There is a contention and competition between the two; without them knowing how they are being manipulated…
Abhishek Chaubey’s story idea has been developed well by him, Vishal Bhardwaj and Sabrina Dhawan, and the trio manages to come up with very realistic and hard hitting venture. Though part of the story resembles Mahesh Bhatt’s debut “Manzilen Aur Bhi Hain”, the mood of the film is contemporary with fresh look and feel. Major success of the narrative is the characterization, where every character seems to be selfish –no commitment, no dedication whatsoever. The dialogues by Vishal are short, clever, crisp and efficiently convey the social and political situations of the surroundings. “Galti karne mein jaldi / maafi maangne mein der”, “Zameen / Aasman vs. Hindu / Musalman”, “Shia / sunni vs. Thakur / Yadav / Pandey / Jaat” are few of those many phrases to cherish upon.
Confrontations between Jijaji and Khalu / Babban, Khalu trying to get back to his youth once smitten by Krishna, Babban’s interaction with the young boy Nandu (Alok Kumar), Khalu’s heartbreak and reaction after learning about Babban / Krishna relationship, KK Kakkad’s extended temple visit, his kidnapping scene and later him going back with his wife and mistress together are few of the scenes brilliantly handled. Costume design is top class and Mohana Krishna / Tassaduq Hussain have done a splendid job with their camerawork. The proceedings go slow a bit at a few places, “Thodi slow chhe, phir bhi film badi wo chhe”. Abhishek Chaubey makes an impressive directorial debut.
Performances: The three lead protagonists together take the film to a higher level. It’s hard to think anybody else than Vidya Balan in the role of Krishna. With this performance, she stands right at the top of the real “actresses” brigade. She lives Krishna, oozes sensuality with her facial expressions and body language. Naseeruddin Shah is absolute natural and terrific in the comic and emotional scenarios. Just look at him discussing the classic songs with Krishna at two different occasions, with completely changed expressions and emotions. Arshad Warsi probably got his role of the decade, apart from Circuit, and he does deliver with conviction using his great comic timing and expressions. The kissing scene is one of the best that is seen on celluloid in bollywood. The supporting cast is unknown to most of the audience, but what a casting!! Each one of them is fit to T in the respective roles.
Music: The ever fresh and versatile Gulzar / Vishal combo is back with a great score. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s soulful “Dil To Bachcha Hai” tops the list, which is brilliantly picturised on screen as well. “Badi Dheere Jali” is beautifully sung by Rekha Bhardwaj and “Ibn–e–Batuta” fills in the funky dance mix category. Old classics clips from “Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi”, “Intequam”, “Anupama”, “Tumhare Liye” etc are cleverly utilized.