The International Movie Review

A venture

Halla Bol – The right mix to create halla at the box office

Posted by harino1 on January 24, 2008

An Ajay Devgan-Rajkumar Santoshi combo film always creates those vibes irrespective of the box office success. Take for example The Legend Of Bhagat Singh which didn’t do too well at the box office but went on to receive the national award. With Halla Bol too, Santoshi has a lot to say through the film.

The film brings about the journey of a small town street theatre artist Ashfaque(Ajay Devgan) who under the discipleship of Sidhu(Pankaj Kapur) a reformed dacoit tackle societal issues with their street plays. Stardom beckons and soon Ashfaque makes his way through bollywood as superstar-Samir Khan. With the change in name, soon there is a change in Samir’s character too with a laid back attitude towards work, extra-marital affair. Soon Samir looses hold of his roots and loved ones-wife Sneha(Vidya Balan) and mentor Sidhu.

A shocking incident at a party changes everything as Samir is a witness to a murder of a girl. The girl is gunned down by two boys of great political influence, thus leaving all the who’s who of tinsel town absolutely mum. When interrogated by the media and the police, everyone including Samir refuses to have witnessed the murder. Samir’s conscience takes him for a toss and eventually Samir leaving behind his filmy image takes on the system in an attempt to find justice for the girl’s family.

Rajkumar Santoshi is back with a bang. The ace proves it again why a Santoshi film is worth all that Halla. The direction of the film is splendid and the flow of events within the film is so smooth that one is hooked on to the big screen right from the start. The film opens with Santoshi’s insights into the Indian film industry with how actors within the industry bitch about each other behind their backs while on the other hand act like brothers when they meet face to face. The very introduction of Devgan’s character at the autobiography launch where he reveals that his book is full of lies is such an opener. Various scenes within the industry like Artists promising of dates, relationships with women on the sets and endorsements of brands have been portrayed in a witty manner but with the right amount of reality.

The storytelling by Santoshi is absolutely gripping as the movie shifts from a film about the Indian film industry to a film that carries a relevant message. Santoshi seems to be inspired by the Jessica Lal case and its proceedings thus bringing about this real incident to reel format.  The film also carries inspiration from the life of ‘nukkad natak’ pioneer and social activist, the late Safdar Hashmi. Thus, the protagonists bring about the power of streets play to address any issue, no matter how big it maybe. Santoshi also strikes at the media through the film where he expresses that their responsibility lies beyond filming and clicking pictures of a particular crime or form of injustice.

Santoshi’s film is high on content as it shows us what happens when an actor takes on politicians –right from the burning of his posters to the no-show at theatres. The characters in the film are so well sketched out that even the frustration in Devgan’s character is brought out in the form of his scuffle with the journalists and photographers. The finale of the Natak shot amidst a huge crowd brings out Santoshi’s technical brilliance which is similar to Bachchan’s chase sequence in Khakee.

Ajay Devgan is at his best in Halla Bol. After the back-to-back failure of the Ajay Devgan starrers, Cash and Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, his performance in Halla Bol is sure to win him accolades. He surprisingly carries the superstar image with ease; the care free attitude and his sense of humour are well expressed. Several sequences in the film are surely headed for a standing ovation from his fans- like the scene where Ajay gets to the politician’s (Darshan Jariwala) house and urinates on his so called Persian Carpet. Devgan does a modern day Bhagat Singh in this flick as he carries immense energy with his dialogue delivery and expressions.

Another person to watch out for in the film is Pankaj Kapur who heads the nukkad natak group in the film. Pankaj is absolutely fabulous as the Punjabi reformer Sidhu. Right from his look in the film to his silent eye moments, Pankaj does a brilliant job. He is no less than Devgan and he too forms the backbone of the film. He scares with his eyes and his character is sure to stick on with the audiences. The scene where the media questions a handcuffed Sidhu as he leaves the hospital is one to watch out for.

Vidya Balan doesn’t have much scope in the film but she too makes a mark as the caring wife who stands by her husband. Vidya’s response to the media’s questions on the rift with her husband in the film brings out her potential to the max. Darshan Jariwala as the wicked politician is so natural and impresses. The film draws resemblance to Om Shanti Om with the enormous cameos by Tushar Kapoor, Kareena Kapor, Sridevi, Boney Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Mukesh Tiwari, Neeraj Vohra and many more.

The music of the film is not the finest but ‘Jab Tak Hai Dum’ by Sukhwinder brings out the revolutionary theme of the film. ‘More Haji Piya ‘and ‘Is Pal Ki Soch’ are worthy of mention.  A film of this nature has been carried off well by not including the usual dreamy or colorful song sequences that bollywood is fond of.

The cinematography of the film is good and above all the dialogues of the film are fantastic.

Halla Bol brings together Santoshi and Devgan after a very long time. Besides the combo, the film has the right mix to keep it going at the box office. In an era where our legal system is highly influenced by the wealthy and many cases be it the Jessica lal case, Priyadarshani Mattoo case have been creating waves; there isn’t a better time for a film of this nature.

Rating : ***1/2


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