By now all of us have become aware of director Shree Narayan Singh’s caliber after he gave us the socially-relevant ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’, starring Akshay Kumar and Bhoomi Pednekar in lead roles. His latest outing ‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’ with Shahid Kapoor in the lead is a good-intentioned film, but somewhere in between, it begins to drag, taking away the appeal it had started to build from the beginning.
The movie begins in the picturesque town of Tehri in Uttarakhand, where three best buds Sushil Kumar Pant aka SK (Shahid Kapoor), Lalita Nautiyal aka Naughty (Shraddha Kapoor) and Sundar Mohan Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma) bond over a lot of jokes at each other’s expense, a few pegs of desi daaru and life in general. SK is a happy-go-lucky guy and a lawyer, who cares little about the world around him but cares deeply when extracting money from the corrupt is involved. Naughty is an aspiring fashion designer with a shocking sense of dressing, while Tripathi is hopeful he could start a business of his own some day. Things go hunky dory for the people of Tehri, but they are all bugged by a common problem – electricity.
The power supply in Tehri, mostly during the nights, is very low with lights either flickering in the distance or batti being gul most of the time. The citizens of Tehri take the electricity issue in their stride until it becomes too difficult to bear. Tripathi’s business is finally up and running, while SK is doing fairly well practicing law. Once when the electricity board slaps a whopping 54 lakh bill on Tripathi, even cutting off his supply, SK starts to realize it is time he stood for what is right.
The three friends run from pillar to post trying to get facts straight regarding the humongous sum but always return without plausible explanations. Tripathi suddenly goes missing and SK decides it is now that the electricity board needs to be dragged to court. And there he comes face-to-face with Advocate Gulnaar (Yami Gautam), and the twosome fights it out for their clients.
‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’ is a socially-relevant film, like Singh’s last venture, but this one takes a lot of time to reach a conclusion. There are too many subplots in the narrative that distract the viewers from the main issue. The movie is only a few minutes short of three hours and the long run time takes away the steam from the honest effort put in by the cast and crew. The screenplay is very slow and tends to get tedious after a certain point of time during the first half. Also, the director opted for a more realistic approach by using Uttarakhand’s colloquial language for his actors, which they do not seem too comfortable using.
On the positive side however, the film is relevant mostly for the rural areas, where government sectors are blindly robbing the poor of their rights. Shahid Kapoor’s transformation from an I-give-a-damn guy to an upright legal representative is fabulous. The actor deserves a pat for his act. Shraddha Kapoor is good but does not have enough scope in her character. Divyendu Sharma is first-rate as the man stripped of all his basic amenities. Yami Gautam is alright. The courtroom scenes in the second half pick up pace and the humour is sarcastic wherever needed. Songs are not so peppy but a Bollywood movie is incomplete without a song-and-dance-routine and the director cannot be blamed for that. Rest everything falls in place once the film starts to roll, albeit for a very long time!
All in all, ‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’ is a good-intentioned film, which could have been curtailed, had the director not given too much attention to too many details.
Eventznu Rates Batti Gul Meter Chalu : * *