Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Lage Raho Munna Bhai !

I think this movie deserves an Oscar – actually several of them, not least for originality and a quirky Indian-ness which is rare these days where every other movie is set in US or UK or other exotic locations abroad. And also for delivering very powerful social messages in a fun, gentle, non-preachy manner, mixed with such good jokes that you can’t help laughing throughout. I hated the first one (Munna Bhai MBBS), couldn’t understand what the fuss was about…but am I glad they did a sequel because I absolutely loved this one !

Munna Bhai (Sanjay Dutt), a Mumbai toughie, is smitten by a Radio VJ, Jahanavi (Vidya Balan, the heroine from Parineeta). Once, on Gandhi Jayanti, she organises a call-in quiz about Mahatma Gandhi with the prize being a radio chat with her. Munna Bhai, of course, with the able help of his side-kick Circuit (Arshad Warsi), wins the quiz. When he meets her he pretends to be a professor (to explain how he knew so much about Gandhi) and then the fun begins ! Other key elements of the plot include

  • Jahanavi lives with her grandfather and a few of his friends, who are all elderly citizens, in a house named 2nd Innings House – which is so named because these retired, elderly folks believe life begins at 60 !
  • There is a business man, Lucky Singh (Boman Irani), who is friends with Munna Bhai / Circuit, and he has ‘designs’ on the house Jahanavi lives in…
  • Once Munna Bhai has to actually go to a library and learn about Gandhiji and he gets so engrossed in his studies that he spends 5 days non-stop there – and then Gandhiji himself appears in front of his new ‘disciple’ and becomes his Jimminy Cricket / Fairy Godmother style companion
  • Soon, inspired by his new companion and his learning about Gandhiji, Munna Bhai starts doing a ‘Gandhigiri’ radio talk show with Jahanavi – advising people on how to solve their problems Gandhi-style…

The movie works at several levels – its got plenty of laughs, extremely lovable, true-to-life characters and also at a more serious, intellectual level where it really does bring Gandhi’s philosophy into modern times. And finally, also the way it debunks and pokes fun at several unique Indian habits….

  • The whole obsession with kundali’s / astrology etc
  • The new fad of changing a name to change luck – Kkhurana etc…
  • The inability of our senior citizens to enjoy themselves after retiring – have fun, let their hair down, do the things they always wanted to do but were prevented by the rat race
  • The habit of showing off by putting up photo’s with rich and famous people

All the cast are very good in the movie – however, 2 notable performances were Arshad Warsi who was again brilliant with excellent comic timing and his face a canvas for a plethora of emotions. And Boman Irani – who really brought Lucky Singh as a quintessential Sardarji to life, a ‘villain’ you couldn’t help but love…

Another amazing thing about this movie is the vulgarity and violence – there is none ! Amazing ! I thought this wasn’t possible anymore ?

I watched this movie with my family including my six year old son. And I’m ecstatic that his reaction was to ask me 100 questions about Mahatma Gandhi (about 50 of them during the movie itself)…he now wants to know everything about him / the freedom struggle etc…What more could a patriotic NRI want ? Great stuff…you’ll love it !