The opening credit titles rock with an energetic ‘Bappa Moriya’ number scored by
Vishal-Shekhar. Riteish Deshmukh also makes
an impressive entry with his rock star moves. It’s got such great rhythm that
the music clip reaches New York where Chris, a musician looking for a new
sound, loves it and flies down to Mumbai to find the banjo players.
And then the film nosedives to get lost in the slums
of Mumbai. Taratbhai is a small-time extortionist who’s as good with his fists
as he is with the music he belts out. His band of banjo players with names like
Paper and Grease is envied by rival Pakyabhai and there are frequent fisticuffs
like they’re gangs from West Side Story
and not musicians. Director Ravi Jadhav also treats banjo players like they’re
bar girls who pick up money thrown at them with their mouths.
“Because,” says Tarat with all the wisdom that resides
in his unwashed long locks, “banjo players are not respected.”
Respect and romance arrive with Chris and her long
legs and cleavage. Tarat’s imagination
breaks into a romantic and melodious ‘Udan
choo’ with more legs and more cleavage.
It’s only at interval point that Chris finds out that
Tarat is the banjo player she’s come in search of. After a few glitches and
some more gang wars, Chris and the banjo players begin to rock the clubs of
Ravi Jadhav introduces the weak track of a builder who
wants the land around Tarat’s slum and a good-hearted local leader who stands
up to him but gets shot in the bargain.
So just when life seems to be looking up for the slum
boys, there’s a murder charge on Tarat, his gang, sorry, band splits up, and
Chris goes home.
But it all gets sorted out with even rival Pakyabhai
having a change of heart and we leave the cinema hall with the banjo boys going
to the US Consulate for a visa.
The main problem with the film is that Ravi Jadhav
hasn’t got out of his regional filmmaking sensibilities. The film is overlong
at 137 minutes, it’s packed with unknown faces and there’s ancient humour like
a slum boy dreaming of an air hostess at his service or all of them struggling
with the English language. The few scenes where the humour works will probably
find acceptance in parts of Maharashtra.
Riteish Deshmukh has a conventional Hindi film hero’s
role with a drunken scene and a sad background, and he carries off action and
dance with flair. Nargis Fakhri as Chris is once again all about teeny-weeny
clothes with not even a tiny hint of acting chops.
For a film that has pedestrian content, Banjo gets a 2.5* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author