Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen Vidya Balan all over the place, promoting Rajkumar Gupta’s Ghanchakkar dressed in some spectacularly awful costumes. Polka dotted shirts, print on print, stripe on stripe, floral frill on floral frill, headbands, umbrellas, devil horns, peacock earrings, oversized glasses…just enough ridiculousness to make your eyes bleed. To be reminded that these aren't fashion faux pas but her ‘in character’ isn’t necessarily a good thing, because this hints at an OTT comedy, one we’re already skeptical of. Then again, Balan has given us some pretty ace performances, and we last saw Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan pair up in The Dirty Picture…couldn’t be that bad, could it?
Ghanchakkar is a comedy thriller about robber Sanju (Hashmi), who wants to give up the thieving for good. But his wife Neetu (Balan) coerces him into it for a final time — we’re talking 10 crores here, she says, this could really give them the good life. And so it’s on.
Sanju is briefed on the job by two almost-bumbling robbers Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and Idris (Namit Das): they’re going to rob a bank of its employees’ salaries. That's a total of Rs 30 crore, stored in a locker that’s apparently difficult to crack open. It turns out to be a surprisingly easy robbery. Sanju is given the entire amount in a suitcase that he must keep in his possession for three months till the noise around the robbery quietens down, which is when the three will split the booty. Cut to three months later, when Pandit and Idris contact Sanju again. Except, Sanju doesn’t remember them. He’s been in some sort of accident while they’ve been in hiding and is now suffering amnesia.
Pandit and Idris believe Sanju almost too easily, decide to move into Sanju's house with his wife to keep an eye on them in case they try anything funny, and the next two hours deals with Sanju trying to track the money while Pandit and Idris breathe down Sanju's neck.
Ghanchakkar has its moments, but it isn’t the side-splitting comedy you’re hoping for. Sanju is the perfect role for Hashmi who spends the entire duration of the film looking clueless. Vidya Balan plays a Punjabi woman obsessed with fashion magazines and following trends. Except she frequently lets go of the Punjabi nuances that should have been consistent and overcompensates by saying, “Hain?” enough times to roundly irritate you. And if magazines like Vogue, Femina and Cosmopolitan are in fact giving her her fashion advice, maybe they need to be shut down. That besides, there’s a point at which it starts to feel like Balan may have rushed through this project a bit—not enough time to prepare, or stick around for retakes or really get into things as we have known her to do with her past films. Sharma and Das, on the other hand, are great in their roles and provide a majority of the limited laughs in the film. Amit Trivedi should also take a quick bow for his music, which is thoroughly enjoyable in both the background score of the film and its five main tracks.
Considering its lengthy run-time at approximately two and a half hours, there’s not much that actually happens through a chunk of the film. It’s just Sanju trying to track this money down so he can be rid of the two goons who are now living with him, as fast as possible. Eventually, all this stops being funny and the movie starts to drag in bits till the climax, which comes around to save the film just as it starts to look doomed.
Overall, Ghanchakkar is a let down, but if your curiosity is getting the better of you, it isn’t unwatchable either.