Film: Batti Gul Meter Chalu
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Divyendu Sharma, Yami Gautam, Ashrut Jain, Anna Ador, Ram Charan, Farida Zalal, Supriya Pilgoankar, Pankaj Tripathi
Director: Shree Narayan Singh
Rating: * *
In a story narrated by Vikas and Kalyan (ironically metaphoric), Tehri, Uttarakhand becomes the scene for massive corruption. Nauti (Shraddha), SK (Shahid) and Tripathi (Divyendu), three fast-friends are the ones who take up cudgels against this nefariousness by the power supply cartels.
SK, a lawyer by profession, is the con who blackmails local businessmen indulging in malpractices. Nauti is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who runs her own boutique while Tripathi is the budding businessman looking to set up on his own steam. The screenplay by Siddharth Singh, Garima Wahal adapted from an original story idea by Vipul K Rawal underlines their friendship and then proceeds to steam up the narrative with courtroom hijinks. SK turns good Samaritan and spews a fiery tirade on the negligent power company. That’s all to the good, but the overly indulgent story-telling, the lack of focus and over-the-top performances make your head roil.
Director Shree Narayan Singh who gave us an Activism tinged love story with ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’, manages to tap into the bucolic vistas of Tehri with able help from cinematographer Anshuman Mahalay – infusing every scene with warmth and effect.
The same sharpness of purpose cannot be felt in the characterisations or the narrative assay though. Singh appears to have lost interest midway through this film and it shows. The unbearably long runtime (at close to 3 hours) also takes its toll on the likeability of this enterprise. After a point, even the fairly amiable actors fail to enthuse. Their every dialogue sounds overbearing and their actions, totally passé. It’s a pity that Shree Narayan Singh did not give up editing rights to a circumspect, far more refined editor. By wielding the scissors himself, he has put paid to any interest in this loud, unpalatable attempt at social activism.