Baa Baaa review

Manish Paul (l) and Anupam Kher are seen in a still from “Baa Baaa Black Sheep.” (photo provided)

The director, who is making his debut, mentions in the opening credits that he is attempting the kind of cinema on which he has grown up. And he pitches quintessential mainstream cinema right in the first half of this crime comedy: there are a perfect mix of OTT, logical, illogical and contemporary elements with the right touches of emotions, drama, comedy, romance and action!

Baba aka Balbir Sharma (Manish Paul) is a happy-go-lucky youth with a girlfriend named Angelina (Manjari Faddnis), whose father Brian Morris (Annu Kapoor) is an artist. Baba is the son of a henpecked dad Charudutt Sharma (Anupam Kher) who owns a cashew nut dealership and wears earplugs all the time at home to tolerate his nagging wife. However, outside the home, he turns into the strong man Charlie who can pack a mean punch and shoot people.

Yes, Charlie is a contract killer, and on his son’s 25th birthday informs him that as the 13th generation he has to be one, too! If he refuses, “they” will kill him, Charlie. Blackmailed, Baba decides to become a black sheep, too (Hence the nursery rhyme title!). Charlie tells him that his family has a code of conduct — that they will kill only anti-social and bad people, and, if, by mistake, they end up killing a good person, they will execute the murder of the man who assigned them the task — free of cost!

Brian is actually an expert forger of priceless paintings, and in Goa, Home Minister Utpal Shivalkar (Manish Wadhwa) and his cohorts are into all kinds of criminal activities including drugs, contract killings and other crimes. In this complicated mess, Baba and Angelina’s father Brian, as well as ACP Naik (Kay Kay Menon), a ruthless cop who never lives by the rules, get involved. Baba’s father, Charlie, is of course, the gang’s contract killer of choice!

The interval point is interesting enough: Brian dupes the criminal nexus of crores when he passes off a forged painting to them. Utpal’s mistress (Natasha Puri), an art dealer and connoisseur, threatens to expose him if he cannot get the original she wants for her gallery, and the minister gives Charlie the contract of finding and killing Brian!

It is the second half that things become more than a shade woolly-headed and too complex. There are twists and turns and the end is quite logical, but it all looks abrupt and a shade too convenient. The comedy and action are well-blended, but somehow the impact of a good crime comedy is missing.

Paandya’s direction is more assured than his writing, where he makes quite a few bloopers, like a man commenting on Baba’s facial expression that he could not possibly have seen. Otherwise, there are some good one-liners.

The music is functional (“Heer Heer” makes a mark as a track, though it is just thrust into the film and not recalled after it is over), ditto the background score. Technically alright (budgetary limitations are seen in the tacky VFX of explosions et al), the film is primarily lifted by Manish Paul (easily cinema’s best male import from television after Shah Rukh Khan — and that’s a considered statement), and, above all, the indomitable Anupam Kher. As the goofy Charudutt, he is astonishing in his perfect timing, expressions and body language, while Charlie is the reverse. And Manish is the complete star package who needs better work and filmmakers who can extract great stuff from him.

Faddnis has nothing much to do other than expose her oomph factor, make wide eyes and also repeat the same expressions. Manish Wadhwa makes a mark as the Home Minister. The rest of the cast are alright. But here’s my dilemma: I cannot call this a BAD or MEDIOCRE film in any way, but somehow, thanks to its frenzied second half, we can’t label it as a good film. It just about gets pass marks.

Rating: **1/2

Agastya Films & Soham Rockstar Entertainment present “Baa Baaa Black Sheep”

Produced by: Krishna Datla & Anand Swarup Agarwal

Directed by: Vishwas Paandya

Written by: Sunjiv Puri & Vishwas Paandya

Music: Roshin Balu, Gourov Dasgupta & Shaan

Starring: Manish Paul, Manjari Faddnis, Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor, Manish Wadhwa, Utpal Shivalkar, Natasha Suri, Sahil Vaid, B, Shantanu, Aakash Dabhade, Vineet Sharma & others.

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