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Banjo  : Slum Side Musical
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Friday, September 23, 2016
Ravi Jadhav
Riteish Deshmukh, Nargis Fakhri

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 Mumbai.


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. 


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author


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