To be really frank, I was quite put off by the outrageous clothes Vidya Balan chose to wear while promoting Ghanchakkar. The song Lazy Lad which did the rounds, again as a promotional tool, had the same effect on me. I had made up my mind that it was going to be a stupid, over-the-top comedy film. But I couldn’t convince myself that Rajkumar Gupta, the director of movies like Aamir and No One Killed Jessica would attempt a film of that genre. Probably because I expected the worst, Ghanchakkar took me by surprise.
Quirky is the word that best describes this film. Right from the opening scene, the film stays true to its title. It is a madcap story of Sanjay Atre (Emraan Hashmi), a retired bank robber, and his OTT wife Neetu (Vidya Balan). The couple is leading a calm life, trying to make peace with Neetu’s horrible cooking and loud fashion sense, and Sanju’s addiction to the idiot box. Once in a while, his mother calls up to find out whether her son is being treated well by the chudail. And then, one night, Sanju receives a call asking him to be part of a Rs 35-crore bank heist. After much thought and a little nudge from his wife, who tells him that it would help him buy the biggest LED TV ever, he sets out with Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and Idrees (Namit Das) to rob the bank. They finish the job successfully and Sanju is given the responsibility of keeping the money till they divide it equally among themselves after three months. However, after three months, when the duo meets Sanju, they realise that he suffers from partial memory loss now. He has no clue who they are, what they have done or where the money is. How Sanju finds his way to where he has hidden the booty forms the rest of the story.
The film is as real as it gets, with crisp dialogues and a believable pace. A while into the film and you start getting used to Balan’s loud selection of clothes, but her Punjabi accent doesn’t have quite the same effect. Her nasal “Haaainnnh?”s sound fake and laboriously put on and starts giving you a headache after a point. Touted as the only female “hero” of Bollywood, Balan is unable to cast a spell with her performance and ends up turning the character into a caricature. But for once, the film doesn’t revolve around her character and Balan’s performance gives away the relief she has playing second fiddle to Hashmi.
After proving his acting prowess with films like Shanghai and The Dirty Picture, Hashmi impresses with his portrayal of Sanju, the man who can’t remember anything. He perfectly captures the dilemma the character goes through and manages to keep it as subtle as possible. Rajesh Sharma (who was last seen along with Balan in The Dirty Picture) and Namit Das are excellent in their respective parts. Contrary to the image the teasers paint, the humour in the film is very subtle, to an extent dark, and placed at the right places. And, this rare breed of humour is what saves the film when it starts slowing down in the second half. The only two instances when the comedy gets on your nerves and doesn’t fit in are the too long phone-sex conversation and the train commuter with raw vegetables who never fails to make an appearance whenever a local train is in sight.
Rajkumar Gupta, who has co-written the film with Parvez Sheikh, ensures that there is no unwanted banter in Ghanchakkar. Yes, a few of the dialogues keep being repeated, but it can be forgiven because people do end up saying the same things over and again in real life. The highlight of the film, however, is the crazy climax. Probably the last time I saw such a freaky ending that worked perfectly was in Rohan Sippy’s Bluffmaster. It is both unpredictable and bizarre and will surely give you a jolt.
On the flip side, the film is too long at two hours and eleven minutes and there are a few gaps in the narrative. It would have helped if the makers spent more time developing the very few characters a bit more deeply. The music by Amit Trivedi is also just about average. Given all this, Ghanchakkar is hugely entertaining and engages the viewer. It is brave attempt at bringing back dark humour to Bollywood and manages to do so with flying colours.
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan, Rajesh Sharma, Namit Das
Director: Rajkumar Gupta