Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jai Ho Democracy 

Border Shenaigans 

A line-up of some of the finest talent from the National School of Drama, comes up with a juvenile farce that could be bettered by a bunch of teenage students working for an inter-collegiate drama contest.

Do we need to be told that Indians and Pakistanis have a common heritage, and are enemies because of Partition?  Do we need to be reminded that our politicians, bureaucrats and media are often insensitive buffoons?  Maybe, but the medium of satire has to be much more sophisticated than Ranjit Kapoor and Bikramjit Singh Bhullar’s Jai Ho Democracy.

A hen is spotted on no man’s land between the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan. Both sides make it a mission to capture the hen, or, at least, not let the enemy get its hands on the bird.

The home minister (a shoe-fetishist, modelled on a real-life female politician) does not want to be the one to order an attack, so she sets up a committee to decide. Meanwhile the media go berserk over ‘Breaking news’ when they don’t even know where the trouble spot is. In the film’s only funny scene, a hysterical reporter supposedly at the location, does his rant and calmly steps out from the front of a screen showing stock footage.

The committee chaired by a Supreme Court judge Ramalingam (Annu Kapoor—amusing accent) and representatives from all regions and parties (Om Puri, Satish Kaushik, Seema Biswas,etc) is more interested in hair-splitting over outdated procedures than debating the problem.

Their antics are absurd but not in the least comic, while the name-calling and muscle-flexing at the border gets out of hand, till two cooks find a way out of the imbroglio so that the film can stagger to its inane climax.

The Indo-Pak issue has been done in War Chhod Na Yaar, Kya Dilli Kya Lahore, and with much more imagination in Filmistaan.  Was there anything of consequence left to say?


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