No Sense of Reality

Picture 17
Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster Returns (Tigmanshu Dhulia, 2012)

With Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, coming after Dhulia’s immense critical success with Paan Singh Tomar, the director has a little bit more control over his framing, a more nuanced sense of scene composition and is able to get a little bit more fluid performances from his actors. Yet, the fundamental concept behind this series of films, first and second, is not just flawed, it is poorly developed. As with the first film, Dhulia is only out to pull off a few surprises, stage a couple of one liners and pay an out-of-place homage or two to fool the yuppies into believing they’re not wasting their time. In the end, this film is nothing different from a mindless masala movie other than the fact that it is disguised under a theme of politics and gunda-violence. Other than that, the song sequences are just as lavish, the item numbers just as sexy, the storyline just as over the top and the acting just as fake as any of the mainstream Bollywood offerings. This film is a clear indication of a director who just isn’t able to fully let go of the limitations that “safe” mainstream entertainment provides in terms of dollars as well as following.

Dhulia, to be honest, is at his best (as in Paan Singh) when he’s out to make a point… sure, he turns to melodrama in such situations but at least it is a steadfast conviction of sorts and his leads have a constitution to base their acting upon. In Returns, everyone gains and loses their conscience at the flip of a switch. Madhavi and Birendra Pratap especially have no line of approach to anything they do, but rather they just act on impulse to any new development that occurs. Whether it be vengence, forgiveness, sadness, regret or merciless killing, the people in this movie don’t seem to have a mind of their own and do just what helps them get by a particular scene in the film. This is a very juvenile way of constructing a thriller becuase when your characters are so flimsy and their minds are always at the service of the writer/director rather than at the service of the world they inhabit, anything can happen at any time, and nothing is ever established as believable or worth paying attention to… if a space-ship came down and abducted Indrajeet Singh towards the end, I don’t think it could have been so much more ridiculous than what was already going on…

 

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