Written by Manisha Lakhe on September 21, 2018
Yeh Picture Bahut Hee Bore Thehri, Bal!
Three best friends in a small hill town: a girl and two boys seem to be leading happy lives, their only concern is which of the lads the girl will choose to marry. But the one she chooses ends his life over a ginormous electricity bill that cannot be paid even after selling his new factory and their ancestral home. The other chap is a happy to sue lawyer who suddenly sobers up and sues the electricity company. If it weren’t for the horrendous colloquial version of Hindi that sounds forced, and the promise of a class action suit that isn’t makes this film unbearable to watch.
Every sentence that the people speak either ends with ‘bal’ or ‘thehra’. ‘Thehra’ is easy to understand, and is annoying to hear like someone speaking in present continuous tense. But to hear ‘bal’ added to every sentence just seemed super annoying, even though people of the region may be speaking Hindi in that manner. ‘Yes bal’, ‘No bal’, ‘It’s morning, bal!’
If you can sit through this sort of colloquialism, and we have seen many characters in hindi cinema that speak local: Soorma Bhopali being the most memorable. But filmmakers know, one character who speaks local is enough. You can have everyone speak oddly.
This film is set in a small town in Tehri (Garhwal part of the Himalayas, on the banks of the Ganga). So we have Shahid Kapoor aka ‘SK’ who plays a happy-to-sue lawyer and make money, Shraddha Kapoor aka ‘Nauti’ (from her name Lalita Nautiyal) who wants to be better designer than Rohit Bal (not that ‘bal’ but ‘Baal’, they explain in the film, and the audience fails to laugh) and Devendu Sharma who plays Sundar, the good earnest lad. The three are best friends, and their only concern is who will get the girl. She decides she is going to date each one for a week, and then choose. Of course Shahid gets a chance to dance to mindless numbers. The good lad makes her tea and instant noodles and replaces fused bulbs in her home and wins her over. Shahid sees them kiss and is enraged and jealous. He takes off to Mussoorie to scam students into taking law coaching classes. Meanwhile the earnest lad’s factory is inundated with demands to pay an electricity bill that seems ridiculous. He tries hard to get the ombudsman to hear his pleas. Of course the girl and the earnest lad come to Shahid, and he is so jealous, he is rude to them.
You look at the watch. Maybe this town is so small, there is only one lawyer, you think. It has been one and a half hours and the film seems to be going nowhere. You get some coffee to help you stay awake. And popcorn so you won’t grind your teeth when you hear ‘bal’ again and again.
Second half begins to work when the earnest lad kills himself over unpaid bills and the prospect of going under by jumping into the Ganga. Shahid, shocked by this suicide turns righteous and decides to take on the electric company. People pour in with their complaints too because he announces that everyone who has a complaint should sign up. But what are they signing up for? The Erin Brockovich style class action story goes nowhere, and we see courtroom antics that are so bad, you wish you were watching a TV show with your mum. Yami Gautam shows up as lawyer for the electric company and has a pained expression throughout which can only mean that she’d rather sell a fairness cream than be in that silly court. Jolly LLB it is not.
Shraddha Kapoor promises us that she’ll tell us why she wears a saree to court, but Shahid Kapoor walks off in the end without wanting to know. And we are so fed up as audience and so relieved that the three hour long ruining of a good idea is over, we too leave without caring about the answer.
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)