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'Jai Ho! Democracy' review: Predictable and barely humorous!

'Jai Ho! Democracy' review: Predictable and barely humorous!

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 24 April 2015

Movie Title

'Jai Ho! Democracy' review: Predictable and barely humorous!

Director

Bikramjeet Bhullar, Ranjit Kapoor

Star Cast

Annu Kapoor, Om Puri, Dolly Ahluwalia, Aamir Bashir, Seema Biswas

Every few months a new film satirizing Indian politics finds its way to our nearest theatre. What's curious is that these films often lack the bite of a good satire, despite having a subject as rich as politics.

In Jai Ho! Democracy, an unsuspecting hen flutters in no man's land between India-Pakistan borders. Each side claims the hen as their own. A junior cook is sent from the Indian side to bring the hen over to their side. The Pakistani army trains their guns. The Indian army does the same. The tensions grows as rumours start about a possible war erupting.

And so, a political special committee is set up to look into this sensitive matter. The politicians belong to different regions and all of them speak with a pronounced accent. Also, each of them is more ludicrous than the rest.

So Annu Kapoor plays the South Indian chairperson to the committee. The committee itself includes an overweight Punjabi leader who is prone to abusing and complaining about his aching knees (Satish Kaushik), a pretty Punjabi politician (Grusha Kapoor) who has brought her knitting kit to the meeting, the Bengali politician (Seema Biswas) who doesn't shy away from a hand-to-hand combat , the North-Eastern leader (Adil Hussain), the refined one (Aamir Bashir), and the patriarch among them (Om Puri).

We see these politicians (caricatures of real-life leaders) getting overwhelmed by the huge report. To which one politician remarks, "Yeh Parliament ki bhaasha hai. Kisi ko samajh mein nahin aati" (This is in Parliament language. No one understands it.)

This group then gets into inane, juvenile arguments, as Mahatma Gandhi's photograph shows a shocked expression. They argue for hours whether one of them coughed or sneezed, and argue over everything else except the subject on hand.

One understands the film is trying to make a point about the intentions and capabilities of our leaders, but the attempt falls flat. The cheeky "happy" background score that appears on the most inopportune times is a nice touch, but done-to-death in the movie. Perhaps the most telling scene in the film is the Indian soldier overcome by the kindness of an elderly Pakistani soldier. The two find common ground and realize they are more closely-knit than they imagined. Sitting in a pit, in no man's land, the two turn unlikely friends. They bond and even sing a song that melts the hearts of everyone who hears it.

The film has a fairytale finale, where the futility of division and war, gives way to friendship and love.

It is a laudable thought, but has been presented in countless films before this. Sadly, the film's story and conclusion offers no depth or a new perspective. The storytelling, with the usual paraphernalia of showing cartoonish politicians, high-pitched TV journalists, and a convenient ending, is equally tired and dated.

The film has a superb ensemble cast, but all you see them doing is squabbling and getting into inane arguments. It's sad when you see these veterans enacting such one-dimensional and uninteresting characters.

Director Ranjit Kapoor happens to be the co-writer of the classic comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and the director of the charming Chintu Ji (2009). One wonders what happened here. Sadly the filmmaker is not on firm ground here, giving us a film telling us what we already know, with a story we've seen too many times already.

Rating: 1.5 stars

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