17 August 2007 | Chrysanthepop
An Excellent 'Satirical' Black Comedy
I recently had a re-watch of this hilarious flick. It's hard to categorize it in a specific genre. It could be viewed as a black comedy or as a dramady of the chawl culture and it can be seen as a parody of Bollywood films. Very enjoyable indeed. Manjrekar himself cleverly wrote the screenplay while Jha directs his first film. You'll be laughing a lot! As the title claims, the movie focuses on a chawl. It's sort of in the semi-documentary/semi-feature film format. Sushmita plays herself as the presenter of the documentary. Then there's another voice-over narrator. The film further focuses on the people living in the chawl. There's the hyper Ganpat (Vijay Raaj) who pretty much does nothing. There's a naive housewife Laxmi (Raveena Tandon) who's desperate to have a baby with her husband (Sanjay Navrekar), there's Mona, an aspiring actress (Namrata Shirodkar), Dulari (Divya Dutta) a working mother suffering a bad marriage with an alcoholic husband and a greedy mother-in-law, Suman (Rinke Khanna) a young tutor taking care of her traumatized father, Soundarya (Dia Mirza), an 'ugly' duckling who's rejected by every suitor, Sheela (Shweta Menon) a mother of two children and wife of an unemployed abusive husband and numerous other dwellers. While the main focus is on the lives of the women mentioned. We see them living their lives bravely and making the best out of them. In spite of their circumstances, the women are strong, hardworking, caring and they accept the way their life is. Then in contrast, we see most of the men who are lazy, waste their women's money on booze or anything else, beat their women, fool around etc. Yet, as I mentioned it is a satire and both men and women can easily enjoyed it. Everything is shown in good humour.
Continuing with the plot, the owner of the chawl, Parvin Seth (Khedekar), wants to build a modern shopping complex and is desperate to take back the chawl. He tries to compromise with the inhabitants but in no way are they willing to leave. Seth makes different attempts (he even sends a hit-man) only to fail. Enters a researcher Aman Joshi (Aman Verma) and changes the life of the dwellers. They see new hope in him as he helps them with their difficulties. However, things aren't the way they seem.
Jha directs the film brilliantly and skillfully spoofs it up without falling flat. The language is a little street and coarse (I think kids shouldn't watch this) definitely adds to the chawl lifestyle, the parody songs e.g. Chale Chalo (from Lagaan), Hum Bhi Hai Josh Mein (Josh) etc. are hilarious and fun to look at. The whole 'sati' sequence is another track that provides loads of laughter. I'll try not to say too much about the content as it's best if you discover the surprise by yourselves.
All the performances are very good. To mention a few, Raveena Tandon is fantastic and plays her part with sheer ease in a very natural way (Mahima Chaudhry was the earlier choice for the part). Vijay Raaj, Aman Verma and Divya Dutta are excellent. Sanjay Navrekar is simply hilarious. Namrata Shirodkar does very well. Ditto for Rinke Khanna and Dia Mirza. This is probably Shweta Menon's best role to date and she does full justice to her part. Sushmita Sen shines with her contagious laughter. Sachin Khedekar is good.
On a more serious note, the film does help us to appreciate the chawl dwellers. Known as middle class people, they are the hard workers, they're the ones who keep the country going, who vote, who suffer the most during conflicts e.g. political, they're the ones who sacrifice, they are strong, they are brave, and to say the least, they are survivors. Thanks to Jha and Manjrekar for making this film and giving us a relevant message through laughter.