Written by Manisha Lakhe
Fake Village. Fake Villagers. Death Of The Small Film.
Based on a short story by Phanishwarnath Renu, this film attempts to bring the simple village life from 1954 to life and ends up looking fake, worse than a high-school amateur hour. Unfortunately, the ensemble cast are stellar actors. To see them over-do the we-are-simpleton-villagers act is jarring.
Brijendra Kala, Rajesh Sharma, Yashpal Sharma, Ravi Jhankal, Malini Sengupta are all familiar faces. Character actors who have proven their mettle in many Bollywood films. They have the ability to meld into the character they play. Alas, the ensemble cast here just fails on every level.
The setting is like an antiseptic village. The village mud houses are too clean, not a single brick out of place. The ‘Mahto’ caste were at that time declared as a scheduled tribe and were not meant to be rich. Yet Yashpal Sharma’s house looks rather fancy, and wife wears colored lenses. Really? He has a straggly cow kept in the inner courtyard of the house. It looks like a village house, but it’s like a film set.
Why is Rajesh Sharma dressed up like a village version of the writer Phanishwarnath Renu (in an awful wig), no one knows. As a village bard, he gets to ham it up.
The less said about Brijendra Kala’s overacting the better.
The love story between the hero Godhan (played by Amitosh Nagpal who is so awful he plays the role as if he were inadvertently giving anti-acting lessons) and heroine Mundari (played by Anuradha Mukherjee who is through the film made to look like she were a pea plant – so many tendrils in her hair!) is so boring, you wish for the Spanish Inquisition to show up from a Monty Python show and arrest them for boring the audience to death.
That brings us to the story. The story is simple. Set in 1954, The village wants a Hurricane Lantern also called Gas Light or Panch Light (pronounced ‘lait’). The elders of the villagers buy one but no one knows how to light the lamp. They have outcast the one and only lad who could because he’s an the outsider and because he’s a flirt and won’t comply with rules…
The film drags on and on, and you notice how when the hero and heroine are romancing their footwear appears and disappears at will, how everyone in the village is wearing brand new clothes carefully selected to look like what someone urban thinks villagers might wear. If the film annoyed you, it would be a good thing. This film is just so flat, so dull, you watch everyone as if they were a sleepy cow, who you’re hoping will regurgitate something and begin to chew again.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)