Movie Review Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns: Jimmy Shergill fits his part well
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Cast: Irrfan Khan, Jimmy Sheirgill, Soha Ali Khan, Mahie Gill, Raj Babbar, Rajeev Gupta
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
IE rating: ***
There is a brilliant sequence in the first half of Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns where a small-time politico is wrestling with a laptop he doesn't know how to switch off. His visitor lets the 'chutbhaiya neta' get red-faced at the blue film, and only then reaches across and finds the right button, both for the machine and the man. In this brief joust, Tigmanshu Dhulia shows just how good a director (and writer; the dialogues are his) he can be: here are characters being played to the top of their strengths, speaking in a tongue they own, leaving us smiling with pleasure.
If Dhulia had been able to maintain the pitch and balance of this memorable bit, the sequel to his 2011 Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster would have been a triumph. The 'return' is a better film, but it stops short of being excellent. The smooth build-up in the first half leads to a confused, too-crowded second, which lets the film, and us, down.
But while the going is good, it is all most gripping. The sequel starts from where the first film had left off . Saheb ( Sheirgill) is now a cripple, bound to a wheelchair. Biwi ( Gill) spends her time being soused, having become adept at negotiating the curves her bitter spouse throws at her while displaying all hers. And Gangster ( Irrfan) is the interloper who turns up to make things more interesting.
The story-telling in the first half is so seamless that you overlook the things that had been a problem the first time around. This is UP, we are told ( Irrfan's character is even called, ahem, 'Raja Bhaiyya' ) but we never really know where exactly; there's a whiff of several neighbouring states in the 'rajwada' and their polo matches and their parties : the pretty young princess ( Ali Khan), who is adored by Raja Bhaiyya, and who becomes barter in the battle for power between him and his mentor ( Babbar), and Saheb, is generic North Indian. So is the walk-on cast , which includes the superb Rajeev Gupta as the fumbling-watcher-of-porn-on-laptop.
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