Zed Plus review: A plus!
Zed Plus review: A plus!
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Saturday 29 November 2014
Chandra Prakash Dwivedi
Adil Hussain, Mona Singh, Mukesh Tiwari
The film begins with a Sufi song featuring an over-enthusiastic Sukhwinder Singh (he really ought to stick to singing) and Hrishitta Bhatt doing Bollywood's version of a folk dance. From then on, it gets better.
We're in Faridabad, and we meet Aslam (Adil Hussain), he of the day-and-night puncture shop. He is harried because of his neighbour, a delusional poet, basking in inherited wealth. Their juvenile fights are often thwarted by their more sensible wives. That they're both in love with the same woman, a local bangle seller, remains a secret. And that the three stand symbolically for India, Pakistan and Kashmir is a clever trick.
Trouble arrives in the form of the Prime Minister who decides to visit Faridabad. It's on the very day of his arrival, that it is Aslam's turn to be incharge of the local durgah. The PM (Kulbhushan Kharbanda, hilarious) who insists on speaking only in English, tries conversing with Aslam who only knows Hindi. Their conversations are translated by the PM's trusted aide. But in this mess, the PM mistakes Aslam's complaint of a threat to his life by his neighbour, as a threat from across the border. You see, a threatening neighbour means only one thing to India's PM.
He immediately orders Z security for the humble man. Now Aslam arrives home to his gobsmacked wife (Mona Singh, superb) with armed men in tow.
They follow him everywhere, even to the open air loo. His trip to the local chai adda becomes a scene. His mistress is furious with him for not meeting her.
Aslam is dazed and requests the security be removed as it was just a misunderstanding. But with the news all over political circles and media, the PM's assistant asks him to play along.
Aslam is now caught in an impossible web that catapults him into the choppy waters of politics.
The film drives home several pertinent points with dollops of humour, the way a satire should. The premise is equal parts tragic and funny.
But the film really picks up in the second half. Sanjay Mishra arrives as a clueless Pakistani terrorist who wants to cash in on Aslam's controversy. Meanwhile Aslam's bored security folk make themselves comfortable, calling Aslam's wife "didi" and helping around in the house. Aslam's jealous neighbour is now furious. But the fun actually starts when Aslam really faces a life threatening attack.
The film takes digs at everyone - politicians, the media, and even terrorists. There's plenty that'll make you laugh.
The film's atmospherics are breathtaking. You can feel the laidback air of Faridabad - the dusty roads, local buses, small shops contrasting with the unnerving quietness of the politicians' plush offices.
The characters are hugely interesting, especially the supporting roles. Note the too-smooth PM's assistant or the paanwala aptly named BBC, who loves broadcasting everyone's private lives.
Aslam is a hugely interesting character but we are not convinced of his actions at times. For example, his request to remove the security again seems incongruous as he had just started enjoying the perks of his stardom.
We also don't understand the film's take on infidelity as all married men in the film seem to want to flounder, and that is portrayed as a normal thing, a small mischief.
Actor Adil Hussain however makes us root for Aslam. He brings in the right amount of humour and pathos to his performance of this real, flawed and likeable character.
The rest of the cast matches step and this is one those rare films where each performance is better than the other!
Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi (Pinjar) gives us a film that gets it mostly right. With less repetition and a less sketchy execution, this would have been a truly memorable film.
Still, it's worth a watch for the intent, the unique story, powerhouse performances and bits of genuine humour. After all, who doesn't like a biting parody, even if you wish it were sharper.
Rating: 3 stars