18 October 2016 | margaritesaipo
When gods co-exist with item numbers
Old ghosts and new dreams survive side by side in this Manoj Bajpayee, Vijay Raaz film as we get to see Old Delhi like we have never seen it before.
God who may be mad, an Anupam Kher who lives in a Havel a Muslim woman claims is hers, and a Kalawati who exists only in dreams. There is more going on in Sanjeev Sharma's Saat Uchakkey than meets the eyes and, yes — despite the Censor's objections — the ears. Sift through the abuses, those that have survived 90 cuts and a three-year wait for release, and the film is a delightful slice of life from that new pet haunt of filmmakers, Old Delhi.
However, it's not the Old Delhi of just pigeon contests, closely knit houses and kite- flying, with Red Fort and Jama Masjid alternatively peeping over the horizon. Sharma's Old Delhi is rather about the old ghosts and new dreams which co-exist here so organically, one feeding off the other, one fuelling the other. It's about men who make a living "making antique idols", or keys for "90-year-old iron locks"; the men who hawk wooden snakes alternatively as "engineering craft" or "sexual toy" to hassled but polite foreigners; the lawyers who fix cases through skinny, knife-wielding boys barely standing upright; and cops who must find order amidst this all. It's also about the women who find their way through this, giving back as good as they get. There are few ways out of this maze of narrow lanes, kachauris, card games, and hand-to-mouth survival. And one of the first offered to Pappi (Manoj Bajpayee) and company is a blithe deal: "bijli churani hai", they are told over roadside tea. The second is more esoteric, in the form of a lunatic, Bichchi (Annu Kapoor), of mythical reputation. In Bichchi's mutterings, Pappi sees the promise of a hidden treasure in that contested Havel of the diwan (Anupam Kher). Where gods co-exist snugly with "item numbers" organised for Purnima, day begins with a flower-seller setting shop for Kaali puja, a dacoity must take into account the neighbourhood mosque, mourners break into a dance, and havelis come with Mughal lineage, nothing is impossible. Manoj Bajpayee as Pappi; Aditi Sharma as Pappi's resourceful love and the neighbourhood heartthrob Sona; Vijay Raaz as Jaggi, the lawyer with a waistcoat, a ponytail, and that undulating henchman; and Kay Kay Menon as daroga Tejpal keeping the order while nursing a secret love for Sona, are all excellent. Annu Kapoor as the narrator/god can't help his dramatics, but Anupam Kher is just over-the-top.