T-Series and KRTI Films present “Batti Gul Meter Chalu”
Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Shree Narayan Singh, Nitin Chandrachud, Kusum Arora & Nishant Pitti
Directed and edited by: Shree Narayan Singh
Music: Anu Malik, Sachet-Parampara & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Yami Gautam, Divyenndu, Farida Jalal, Sudhir Pandey, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Atul Srivastava, Sushmita Mukherjee,
Samir Soni, Rajendra Chawla, Sukhwinder Chahal, Badrul Islam, Sharib Hashmi & Sp. App.: Anushka Ranjan and others
Sushil Kumar Pant aka SK (Shahid Kapoor) is a happy-go-lucky resourceful young man, who took seven and half years to pass his Law exams and earns good money by petty arm-twisting. He is inseparable friends with Laliat Nautiyal aka Nauti (Shraddha Kapoor), who aims to be a fashion designer, and the ramrod-straight Sundar Mohan Tripathi (Divyenndu as per credit titles), who starts a small-scale packaging plant in the town of Tehri.
So close is the trio that when the time comes, Nauti decides to spend a week dating each in turn before deciding on whom she will marry. After a week with SK, she starts spending time with the gentle and very responsible Sundar and falls in love with him.
By chance, SK sees them together and is humiliated and very angry. Around that time, Sundar, who has got his second inflated power bill, seeks a meter check from the private supply company and the result is a still more inflated and absurd bill of 54 lakh (5.4 million). His appeals are to no avail, and when his friend SK refuses to even listen to his problem and taunts him, he has no option but to commit suicide by jumping into the Ganga. He jumps along with his bike so that the insurance authorities will think it is an accident, and the compensation will pay for the bill, his other loans without endangering his father’s (Atul Shrivastava)’s home.
The suicide jolts SK out of his anger, and he decides to teach the power company a lesson. Nauti does not forgive him easily, but SK is determined to bring the ‘powerful’ (pun intended here) forces to their knees and starts a movement that is echoed around the country. What happens next? And is there a twist?
Taking a serious topic like wrong billing and other fraudulent practices of private power companies in India against whom complaints are futile, and dealing with it entertainingly is a Herculean task at the least. Editor and director Shree Narayan Singh and writers Siddharth-Garima had managed this beautifully in “Toilet - Ek Prem Katha” with the right mix of drama, social intensity and fun. This time, the balance goes wrong.
The first half comes across as an elongated and ill-conceived love story, and is languid but painful, with Nauti emerging as a confused soul who does not know whom she likes of her two childhood buddies for “more than friendship” – as if that is a compulsion! The second half is more fun and drama as it is a courtroom scene in the main, but the frivolous judge and the proceedings, which often border on the absurd, simplistic, childish or irrational, pull down the so-necessary-to-make-an-impact serious quotient.
A caricature-like judge has become too frequent a norm now (“Jolly LLB,” “Jolly LLB 2,” “Rustom,” “Mulk,” “Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se”), and here, Sushmita Mukherjee emerges as quite a flippant authority. The verdict, when it comes, seems too convenient and random. There are hard-hitting angles to the narrative and lines, but overall, other than a happy ending for the characters and their families, it all seems starkly fanciful.
Siddharth-Garima’s overdose of “Bal” and “Thehera” in the spoken word becomes an irritant five minutes into the story and the rest we can imagine. The cinematography by Anshuman Mahaley is alright, but too many long shots of landscapes, barrenly beautiful as well as of the towns, are needless. The rest of the technical aspects are average, but the background score sounds very amateurish.
The songs are an asset but “Hard Hard” and “Gold Tamba” are speed-breakers in the narrative. Singh has been indulgent and fallen in love with his directorial work too much – 45 minutes of editing, and this 175-minute marathon would have been much more appealing.
Performance-wise, this is a Shahid Kapoor show, and he is correctly hyper, uncouth and, in his own way, ruthless. Divyenndu is alright but shows limitations. Shraddha Kapoor connects well, but remains, thanks to the writing, nice without being extraordinary. Yami Gautam is a surprise, though. From scene one, she is extraordinary, given her limited scope. From the rest, Atul Srivastava as Sundar’s father makes a mark. The rest are average.
Like the film.