Bajatey Raho review: You'll walk out with a silly grin for sure
Considering what's playing at the moment, Bajatey Raho is probably your best bet for a truly fun time at the movies.
There are some films that seem to beg an audience to ignore them. Everything about them, from title to trailer, seems to be preparing the audience for disappointment. Like, for instance, a film that chooses a phrase like "bajatey raho" as its title and whose star cast is made up of Tusshar Kapoor and Ravi Kishan. As the auto-wallah who was taking me said, when I told him which film I was going to watch, "Thoda down market hai na?"
News flash: considering what's playing at the moment, Bajatey Raho is probably your best bet for a truly fun time at the movies. It's far from perfect, the soundtrack is mostly tuneless and the end is distinctly flat, but despite all this, the film holds your attention and makes you root for its heroes. And this is all thanks to some fine acting, a few hilarious setups and smartly-written dialogue.
Directed by Shashant Shah (who has directed largely forgettable movies till now), Bajatey Raho is the story of how a modest school of minnows take down a massive shark. Sabbarwal (Ravi Kishan) is a tycoon and a sleazy villain, as tycoons invariably are in our films. He's out to swindle the public in every possible way, from stealing their savings through dodgy investment schemes to selling adulterated milk.
But when you con the public, the blame has to fall upon someone and Sabbarwal makes two of his employees, Mr. Baweja and Mrs. Hasan, his fall guys. Mr. Baweja is a respectable gent from old Delhi. He can't handle this attack upon his reputation and the shock of being arrested for fraud kills him.
That's when his wife Jasprit, aka Mummyji, (Dolly Ahluwalia) decides she will not only clear her husband's name, but she'll also make sure that creep Sabbarwal pays back all the people whom he swindled using her husband. Helping Mummyji out are her son Sukhi (Tusshar Kapoor), his friend Ballu (Ranvir Shorey), Sukhi's girlfriend Manpreet (Vishakha Singh) and Mrs. Hasan's husband, Mintoo (Vinay Pathak).
There are sting operations, some hilarious song sequences and all sorts of crackpot plans that slowly but steadily lead Mummyji and gang to their final confrontation with Sabbarwal.
The capers aren't wildly clever, but the reason Bajatey Raho doesn't ever become boring is its characters. Even the two-bit players are delightful. For example, there's a buff young man named Aman, who is a reality TV star and who constantly refers to himself in the third person. "When Amanji is stressed, Amanji needs brownies," he says at one point, while stuffing his mouth with brownies. The kid in Mummyji's gang, a boy named Kabootar, is a tech wizard and goes around hooking up cameras and phone tapping devices.
The leads in Bajatey Raho play their parts competently. Dolly Ahluwalia, Bollywood's one-stop shop for Punjabi mums, is solid but by now, she can probably sleepwalk her way through roles like this. If you thought Ravi Kishan was all about buggy eyes and glycerine, think again.
As the lecherous industrialist, he goes from smoothly sleazy villain to almost endearingly embarrassing when he's trying to flirt with Manpreet. Vinay Pathak's Mintoo is a sedate caterer who has a hidden flair for the theatrical. Much like Ranvir Shorey, he doesn't have much to do, but unlike Shorey, Pathak gets a song, and it's the best one in the film: a Mata ki Chowki bhajan sung to the tune of "Subha Hone Na De".(Instead of "Tu mera hero", the chorus goes, "Tu meri mata".) Vishakha Singh is excellent as the spunky Manpreet and it's good to see Bollywood present a woman who uses her feminine wiles cleverly and isn't abused for doing so.
The best performance in the film, however, is Brijendra Kala's, who plays Bagga, Sabbarwal's assistant. Kala is outstanding as the subservient sidekick who is treated callously by his boss. His comic timing is superb (particularly while telling bad jokes) and he gets the blank, polite expression that is the trademark of such assistants perfectly. Kala even manages that difficult balance between pathos and dark comedy, so that even as you laugh at him, you feel for poor Bagga.
There's not much to Bajatey Raho beyond its characters. More than a plot, Bajatey Raho is a series of gags and not all of them work equally well. But the film has strong acting performances and at 107 minutes, it doesn't waffle around. Had it been longer, your patience could have worn thin. As it is now, you'll walk out with a silly grin on your face.
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