Swell done Mr. Benegal
Well Done Abba is quintessential heartland India issues sprinkled with everyday humor, presented on the big screen in a unique menu.
It's about corruption at all levels of the administration, starting from the grassroot panchayat level going all the level upto the minister. It also takes a dig at the women's quota in politics, when the man in the house controls the administration in the name of the woman who holds the post. It will please our backward minded ministers a lot, who have been calling any attempt to ratify the bill a farcical exercise. It's also about well meaning government development schemes going down the drains.
Armaan Ali (Boman Irani), a driver working in the city goes to his village to get his daughter Muskan Ali (Minissha Lamba) married. His village is suffering from a acute shortage of water supply and whoever said, that the next war will be fought over water will be pleased to note, that Mr. Shyam Benegal and Mr. Dev Benegal (with Road, Movie) have already given impressions of times to come upon us. When Armaan reaches the village, Rehman Ali, Armaan's twin brother (Boman Irani again) is caught stealing water from a protected well and is absconding along with his wife Salma (Ila Arun). Alarmed by the water shortage, Armaan decides to dig a well on his land. When he goes to the bank to get a loan, he is advised by a bank employee to apply for government scheme to get a free well, instead of paying for the well as he is also fromt he right community to get the loan, with a reference to quota system in government's development schemes. But, in case, he decides to apply for the loan, the bank employee also asks for a cut, to expedite matters. Once, Armaan decides to apply for the well under govt scheme, he realizes that he has to grease many hands to get things moving and a rollercoaster ride from the local sarpanch (controlled by her husband), to local block development office to the engineer who inspects and sanctions the well, to the photographer who thrives in the system.
Documenting much known adage, that only a small amount of government's largesse reaches the targeted end-user, the movie makes an attempt to also provide for ingenuous solution to a problem.
Boman Irani is great. Minissha Lamba does well playing the village girl in deglam role. Proves, a good director can make you fly! Samir Dattani as arif Ali is good too. All the other supporting characters, including Rajit Kapoor as the honest inspector unable to live upto the expectation of his wife, who demands assets more than his income permits, having seen her father live the corrupt life and having paid for a corrupt posting. Ravi Kishen is great as the just married engineer, who thinks 24x7 about making out with his wife (played by Sonali Kulkarni), on and off the job and how to augment her assets. Yashpal Sharma as well as Ravi Jhankal are good too in their roles. And when corruption is the main evil dogging our society, you don't need evil characters...all you need are different shades of grey. ;-)
Dialogues and Screenplay by Ashok Mishra deserves a special mention. The movie is not for everyone. It's low on entertainment factor, for sure. For starters, there are no item numbers, all you get is a couple of rustic folk numbers, with music by Shantanu Moitra. And as you would have got it, the movie has got no foreign locales, either.
The movie is a must watch for the dry humor, that is a trademark of our country, Incredible India or India shining. It's a wonderfully documented satirical comedy of today's times. At least someone is trying to portray REAL issues on the BIG screen.
Swell, Mr. Benegal!