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Saare Jahaan Se Mehnga review: Sweet, but marginally effective

Movie:
Saare Jahaan Se Mehnga
Director:
Sanjay Mishra
Cast:
Sanjay Mishra, Vishwa Mohan Badola, Pragati Pandey, Zakir Hussain, Sitaram Panchal, Ranjan Chabbra, Disha Pandey, Pramod Pathak
Avg user rating:
What an apt subject for a slice-of-life film—inflation. And what a brilliant title for a film on this topic. As one character rightly says, how can our bank interest fixed by the government fight the rate of inflation?

And so this resourceful family from Haryana comes up with an idea. Why not take the loan of Rs one lakh (sans any interest) and stock up household utilities for three years? That way they won’t have to buy these household necessities at a higher rate. Then, after chanting ‘Om Jai Sasta-ye namah’, they get to work.

A nice song about ‘muthibhar khushi’ (a handful of happiness) plays along as they prepare their lists for things to stock. Sadly they left out one detail—that the loan was meant to open a new shop.

The family’s unique idea of using this loan money for stocking up is smelt out by a wily loan inspector. He is now determined to expose this plan. Meanwhile, this plan has inspired others in the neighbourhood who’re all applying for a loan.

The film is sweet but only marginally effective. Several questions remain unanswered. How does the family intend to use the perishable foods for three years? Again it’s unclear whether the family is lower middle-class or middle-class. The husband has a job, the wife runs her own beauty parlour, the younger brother is old enough to get a job. This is a pretty decent scenario compared to the rest of India that gets far more severely struck by inflation!

Where debut director Anshul Sharma’s film scores is the authentically recreated ambiance. Everything from the styling, art direction, and a delicate hint of the temple bells as the family sits on the balcony is absolutely delightful.

The meltdown monologue towards the end where the character rues about rising costs, even confessing he fears that a guest might drop by and increase expenses or, that he is happy not to have a child is touching.

The actors do very well. As Puttanpal, Sanjay Mishra is the constantly-worried head of the family who must restrict his father from eating the stored jaggery and his brother from wasting money on Maggi. Mishra gets the tone right and we empathize with this harried character.

As Puttan’s wife, Pragati Pandey is top-notch. Zakri Hussain is superb as the detective-like loan inspector. Ranjan Chabbra does well as the love-struck brother of Puttanpal who would rather chase the neighbourhood girl rather than contribute to the family income.

The film is less about inflation, and more about one family’s novel idea to tackle it. A decent watch if you’re in the mood for a low-key film about the average person’s trials and tribulations with inflation.

Rating: Two and a half stars

 

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