Director: Parvin Dabas, Actors: Parvin Dabas,Vansh Bhardwaj, Ashish Nayyar, Kuldeep Ruhil
[S]ahi Dhandhe Galat Bande has all the ingredients of an action film: exciting chase sequences, punchy dialogues and an edgy style of filmmaking. But in a time when every other film claims to be edgy and gritty, what sets this film apart is that it claims a territory rather unexplored in contemporary Indian films which suffer from a distasteful homogenization of cultures and characters. Parvin Dabas in his directorial debut has created a desi action film, mildly funny and replete with the rawness and a feel of the milieu he comes from; a Jat family in Kanjhawala town of Delhi.
His familiarity with the settings shows in every bit of the film. The four key characters of the film form a local gang and dream of making big money through small-time extortions and mercenary activities. Doctor (Ashish Nayyar) owns a medical shop as a part-time profession, Sexy (Vansh Bhardwaj) has an appetite for voluptuous women and Ambani (Kuldeep Ruhil) is a day-dreamer who conjures up his restaurant even before he gets on with a new assignment. The leader of this gang is Rajbir played by director-writer Parvin Dabas. Dabas charms with his naturalistic acting while his three accomplices look perfectly fitted for their roles. The film revolves around the escapades of this gang and the soup they land themselves in when for once they decide to be the good boys of the village and take on the ruthless government that is all set to usurp the land of the innocent farmers and hand it over to a corporate.
Rajbir, for all his flaws is the hero of the film. In the opening sequence, one sees him coming out of Tihar jail after having served a sentence for one year. However, one cannot overlook the raw Jat humour and mannerisms depicted in the film. “Rajbir bhai, hamare liye jail se kya laye ho? (What have you gotten us from the prison?),” ask his friends and he snaps back saying something to the tune of “apna paacha le aaya, yahi kya kam hai!” (I have gotten my behind intact). Similarly, a big fish they have abducted escapes from their clutches after he tricks them into a Punjabi dance they lose themselves into, followed by a thrilling chase sequence through the narrow lanes and low terraces of the village on the tunes of peppy Punjabi music. To match with the rustic and raw feel of the film, it has been shot in warm and grainy tones.
The film that is warm and exciting in the first half couldn’t help itself from falling into the trap of the conventional Bollywood narrative. It dips on the scale of originality in the latter half, trying to reach a simplistic and ‘they-lived-happily-ever-after’ conclusion. For a film that has the complex issue of “land acquisition” woven into the narrative, it tries to provide solutions way too simple and changes-of-heart way too dramatic to be believed. The moments of real weaknesses are overcome with heroic acts that take away from the sense of authenticity the film builds in the first half. A powerful as well as humourous moment of the film is when Rajbir who has been a goon all his life, when forced by circumstances to lead the farmers’ protest finds himself unable to raise coherent slogans. The next moment he is the hero, leading the protest and bringing down the government on its knees. The son of the corrupt Chief Minister of the state, who is a student of History at the coveted Hans Raj College in Delhi University too surprisingly, becomes a face of the farmers’ agitation in Kanjhawala.
Another damage the film has inflicted on itself inadvertently is a stylistic fight-sequence towards the end of the film. Following suit after recent films like Shaitan and Delhi Belly, the sequence is an unnecessary tribute to Tarantino completely unwarranted in the setting of the film. Slow motion and freeze frame hardly appeal while the sophistication of the shots seems completely out-of-place given the mood of the film.
However, the few flaws that Sahi Dhandhe Galat Bande has can be easily overlooked in favour of the freshness that it brings on board. Without a big name or even a heroine for that matter, it manages to entertain and makes you chuckle and comes out as a promising debut. Watch it for the raw and rustic Jat flavour, funny repartees and a ‘desi’ness that Hindi cinema had been long missing!