Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns: Rerun of the quirky and violent
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)
A politician learning to video chat, a man trying to draw blood with a rusty knife and a newbie MLA who doesn’t know what a police FIR is - moments that make Tigmanshu Dhulia’s “Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns” a film that successfully marries the quirky with the violent.
Dhulia’s sequel to his 2011 film takes off smoothly from where the original left off. Jimmy Shergill plays Aditya Pratap Singh, a crippled erstwhile royal trying to hold on to his power while Mahie Gill plays his alcoholic, erratic wife Madhavi. Both hate each other but stay married anyway for practical reasons.
Aditya falls for the beautiful daughter of a neighbouring king and blackmails her father into agreeing to their match. What he doesn’t know is that Ranjana (Soha Ali Khan) is already in love with Inderjit (Irrfan Khan) who has a grudge against Aditya.
Ranjana’s father entrusts Inderjit with ensuring that Aditya is destroyed before he marries his daughter, but Inderjit weaves such a tangled web it is no surprise when he gets caught in it himself.
Dhulia directs the film with a deft hand, introducing idiosyncrasies in each character that make them interesting, and punctuating his narrative with a lot of quirky humour, as he did in the first film.
Where he veers off the path in the second half is when the film gets too complicated with several subplots and characters cluttering up the storyline. What saves the film is the dialogue, which is crisp and uses several pop culture references.
Dhulia is aided by the performances from his leading men. Both Jimmy Shergill and Irrfan Khan are exceptional, embodying their characters to the tee. What makes them even better is that the two women are at the opposite end of the spectrum, looking like amateurs in front of Khan and Shergill.
Mahie Gill’s Meena Kumari act is affected and likely to grate on your nerves rather than help her character get sympathy. Soha Ali Khan gives a one-note performance and her Ranjana never quite comes to life.
Nevertheless, film-maker Dhulia’s style of telling his story and the performances he extracts from his actors ensure that “Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns” is a fun film to watch.