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'Kaun Kitney Paani Mein' review: A watered-down satire

'Kaun Kitney Paani Mein' review: A watered-down satire

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Friday 28 August 2015

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Movie Title

Kaun Kitney Paani Mein

Director

Nila Madhab Panda

Star Cast

Radhika Apte, Gulshan Grover, Saurabh Shukla, Kunal Kapoor

There is no drought (pardon the pun) of good ideas in this little, big film about an Odishavillage that has no access to water. That the neighbouring village, with its so-calledlower-caste populace, is flourishing and water-abundant makes matters worse.

The village head, a pauper king, is forced to offer his city-returned son fizzled out sodafor water. The father (Saurabh Shukla) is far from the ideal, encouraging parent, callinghis tall, sinewy son (Kunal Kapoor) a "dheela waaris" (unworthy suitor).

The poor royals try to sell the village off, but without any water access, no one's willingto buy. In a rather crude dialogue, the King says that the village won't be sold even atthe price of a "retired tawaif" (retired prostitute).

Here, caste and water politics are rampant, and water packets are used as bartercurrency. In their desperation to gain water-access so they can sell off the village, thefather-son hatch a devious plan involving the daughter of the neighbouring village chief,and get down to tracing the details.

The father suggests he rape the girl to get her pregnant, but the son explains it's betterthe consensual sex way (sigh, the ultimate father-son talk to warm the cockles of yourheart). So the plan is to get the girl pregnant, and ask for water access as some sort ofpayoff.

The young man goes to the village, and realizes the girl Paro (Radhika Apte) is bothattractive and smart-she talks of re-mineralization of soil and drip irrigation to hisclueless self, and despite him trying the royal charm, gets him to clean his ramshackleroom. And we all know what happens when love is forbidden.

In the middle of this all, is an ambitious politician, a charas-happy temple priest, aprostitute and a local who is secretly digging a tunnel underground. The finale, a pleafor an egalitarian society, is enjoyable for its theatrical bizarreness.

Writer-Director Nila Madhab Panda (I am Kalam, Jalpari) has always chosen to set hisstories in rural India, and captures the earthy essence beautifully. That's true here aswell; however the film has several issues. There is a problem with the basic premiseitself, and the clever, satirical bits are lost in translation. Then there are incongruousportions like the fully-filmi folk song where Radhika Apte hops in to dance.

Sadly, there are no solid characters you feel for. Saurabh Shukla's King, I assume wassupposed to be comically arrogant, but that comes through only intermittently. KunalKapoor is fairly fun as the pampered brat who has a turnaround, but the characterizationis just not layered enough for it to be heartfelt. The neighbouring village folks do farbetter. Gulshan Grover is superb as the rugged village head, and Radhika Aptesparkles as his clever, talented daughter.

About the few memorable scenes include the bus ride from one village to the other,showing all kinds of people in the overcrowded vehicle. And then there's the bestdialogue in the film, where a character sits by a lake wondering, "The water is sopeaceful, and yet there's so much politics and unrest over it."

One wishes the film was as memorable as this beautiful thought.

Rating: 1.5 stars

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