Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster: Will peculiarity of Tigmanshu Dhulia's characters come through in third installment?
With the new film Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 returning on 27 July, a throwback to Tigmanshu Dhulia's revenge thrillers packed with love and lust
The Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster franchise has brought considerable commercial and critical acclaim to producer Rahul Mittra and filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia. After a casual discussion on their passion for cinema, especially Guru Dutt's classic 1962 film Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, the duo began their 28-day shoot and finished the first movie.
Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (2011), set in the backdrop of a dwindling raj (reign) struggling to keep up with contemporary times, brought together actors Jimmy Sheirgill, Mahie Gill and Randeep Hooda in a gripping narrative involving revenge, romance and drama. Jimmy Sheirgill as Aditya Pratap Singh and Mahie Gill's Madhavi Devi brought in the subtlest of nuances of troubled individuals before audiences.
Singh's desperation to cling on to the last threads of royal legacy, amidst the crumbling walls, fading portraits and declining wealth, shines through Sheirgill's portrayal of unabashed arrogance. He is someone who would aggressively hold up his ideologies of a long-gone past to the point of delusion. Trying to put up with his rival gang headed by Gainda Singh (played by Vipin Sharma), Singh is left with a soul trusted aide, Kanahiya (Deepraj Rana). These dire situations call for extreme measures which Singh takes up by signing killing assignments to compensate for his epicurean lifestyle.
Cinematographer Aseem Mishra captures Singh's sequences in a lush sepia, which immediately reminds one of dilapidating museums.
Gill's performance as the ignored wife is on-point. Madhavi Devi's layered paradoxes are depicted well by the actress. The feisty wife does not mope or cower; she is quick to react and doesn't think twice before shrewdly using others to further her goals. Writers Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sanjay Chauhan pad the narrative with poignant dialogues which audiences remember till date. Every character is defined not as much by physical actions as they are by the words spoken. When Saheb tells Madhavi he's travelling to the city and if she needs anything, she shoots back mockingly, "Bring me back my nights if you can."
Randeep Hooda's Babloo, hired by the rival gang to relay information about Aditya Pratap Singh, is the quintessential ruthless man. Libidinous and ambitious, Babloo aims to climb high within the social structure irrespective of its moralistic consequences. Madhavi uses Babloo to fill the void created by her husband. Babloo is unashamed of his desire for her which later ironically turns to love. He believes in straight talk, whether they be of his aspirations or his confession to Singh of his love for his wife.
The climax moves to a Macbeth-esque ending where all three prime characters move in a linear direction to destruction propelled by their corrupt ambitions. Dhulia succeeds in portraying class politics with the ending and Hooda's death. Madhavi's statement that Babloo can only be taken as a lover and not her Saheb, successfully portrays the butchering of most lower classes in the more intricate politics of the rich and privileged.
The second movie of the franchise, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns (2013) brings in new characters in gangster Indrajeet Singh (played by Irrfan Khan) and Ranjana (Soha Ali Khan), who is hopelessly in love with the former. Aditya Pratap and Madhavi have now moved into a sphere of complete loathing and negativity for each other. Crippled, both literally and metaphorically by his wife's betrayal, Aditya Pratap turns his attention towards Ranjana.
Madhavi is shown as an MLA in the film, one who uses all means — sexual and otherwise — to stay at the top. Irrfan's Indrajeet is contemptuous and sworn to rivalry against Aditya whereas Ranjana is clearly stuck between the desires of two men.
Dhulia's utilisation of Madhavi is accurate, her angst and regret are intelligently woven into a woman who's drunken stupor is just the first layer to a much darker side.
None of the characters in the second film gain audiences' trust; a continuous change is observed in the chameleon-like beings who alter their loyalties as per convenience.
The second movie opened to mixed reviews with most feeling Gill's portrayal was slightly overdone. However, Dhulia's writing and Khan's depiction of Indrajeet were lauded across the board.
With the third film in the franchise, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3, releasing on 27 July, audiences are curious to know how Dhulia plans on treating these peculiar characters within his brand of storytelling.
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