Monday, March 11, 2013

Tigmanshu Dhulia's Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster Returns a mirror of Uttar Pradesh's cultural, economic, political backwardness

Tigmanshu Dhulia presented a rather arresting fim, Paan Singh Tomar, with Irfan Khan and Mahi Gill in the lead. It was based on a true-life story and he presented it in an admirable docudrama style. It rang true. But Dhulia's Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, which is a sequel to Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster, tries a little too hard to portray a decadent feudal milieu in Uttar Pradesh with mobile phones and SUVs and cameras, canned beers.The old background remains -- dilapidated mansions, lower middle class homes. The drama is played out within the framework of the old values -- the jaded code of honour, the palace intrigue enmeshed with contemporary political power play. Dhulia keeps the story elements under control through a very tight screenplay. But it fails to work. The reason is that he is packing in too many things and he does not give enough time for the characters to establish themselves. There are some subtleties and there are some shades which are supposed to make the people in the story believable. They do attain credibility, especially the character of the small-time feudal chieftain played by Jimmy Shergill, and played with certain bravado. Mahi Gill as his wayward and cynical wife is a little overburdened by her villainy. Mahi tries to do what she can with the rather one-dimensional role of perfect grey. Soha as the new bride caught in love and family feud does bring in a whiff of innocence and vulnerability. She exudes a certain charm and loveliness in a dark tale. The problem is with the character played by Irfan Khan, the family retainer and polo player who seems to hold to the generations-old feudal tale of defeat and nurses revenge. But he and his brother fail to even the score. What seems to fascinate Dhulia is the faint feudalism which informs the spirit of Uttar Pradesh. It is the kind of fascination that the modern Japanese directors had for the Samurai milieu and code, some sort of a national compensatory emotion in the face of defeat and humiliation in a slick, modern world. Dhulia is unwittingly pitching the decadent feudal world to compensate for Uttar Pradesh's cultural and economic and political backwardness. He is not critiquing it sufficiently because there seems to be a fatal fascination for the old order things. Its political overtones are superficial. He is more interested in the the twist and turn of family intrigue.

1 comment:

Andy Maenk said...

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