SAAT UCHAKKEY Movie Review: A remarkable and promising debut

It’s a remarkable and praiseworthy debut for a director and writer. It comes across as an imaginatively and viscerally conceived and written, beautifully characterized, competently directed, and excellently enacted film. It could have been a cult-classic but for the ‘chalta hai’ attitude and the low benchmark the writers and director chose to work with.

Let me add a caveat here. It has happened in the past. I have gone gaga over a film to be told later that it was a copy of some foreign crime caper/comedy/mystery. The loose inexplicable ends in the narrative indicate such possibility. Suppose that’s the case here, I will say it’s not a bad Indian adaptation.   

It’s the story of seven small time scoundrels of Delhi who get ambitious and plan a big heist to change their fortunes and settle down in life. They are inspired by an enigmatic character called ‘Bichchi’ (Annu Kapoor), who is a combination of a hypnotist, fortuneteller, seer, and a maverick philosopher. The film opens with Bichhi running away from prison by hypnotizing an assistant jailer. Next we see our protagonist Pappi Jaatwala ( Manoj Bajpayee), ‘a metal polisher’, pestered by his girlfriend Sona (Aditi Sharma) for not doing enough in life to settle down with her. In an attempt to augment his income he indulges in 'stealing electricity' with the help of his friends Haggu (Nitin Bhasin), a locksmith, and Khappe (Aparshakti Khurana), another old Delhi lay-about. He fails and gets caught by Tejpal (Kay Kay Menon), a local cop.

He is extricated out of trouble thanks to Sona who seduces Tejpal into releasing him. Tejpal is smitten by her sensuous persona. A fortuneteller tells Pappi about his getting rich and around the same time Bichchi appears on the scene talking about some treasure. Pappi suddenly realizes that they are talking about the treasure in the ‘haveli’ of Diwan Sahab (Anupam Kher), an eccentric old man. It’s believed that there is a treasure hidden in the basement of the haveli. Diwan has not been able to forget his wife who has been long dead and thinks she is still alive. Pappi makes a plan to steal Diwan’s treasure but he has to get Tejpal off his back, who in the mean time is pursuing Sona with great vigor and has also bribed her mother to get her married to him. Pappi takes the help of Jaggi Tircha (Vijay Raaz) and his friends to execute his plan. After a few hiccups they finally put their plan into action and break into the haveli where a big surprise awaits them.

The characterizations in the film are apt and the cast does full justice to them. Vijay Raaz excels and so does Kay Kay Menon. Annu Kapoor’s cameo as Bichchi is a scene-stealer. He is a very good but poorly utilized actor. Manoj Bajpayee could have done better if he had not resorted to caricaturing his role here and there. Aditi Sharma also suffers from the same infliction; she overacts too instead of living her role. The fast-paced smartly edited narrative keeps you engaged. The photography and lighting of the film are remarkable. The camera follows the action unobtrusively and viscerally.  The locations have been carefully chosen. The film excels on various technical parameters including its sound and production design. The conversational natural dialogues with commonplace expletives are its high point.

The press kit of the film makes a mention of ‘magic realism’ and ‘burlesque’ art. It could have been a landmark film of the genre but for its underdeveloped screenplay. The cavalier direction and writing in the climactic sequences compromise its artistic integrity and cinematic value. Sanjeev Sharma should have paid greater attention to Manoj and Aditi and done something about their stagy performances. Notwithstanding these flaws, and some loose ends here and there, it’s a noteworthy and largely successful attempt.


Directed by Sanjeev Sharma, Written by Sandeep Saket, Sanjeev Sharma, Starring Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Kay Kay Menon, Annu Kapoor, Vijay Raaz, Aditi Sharma, Music by Abhishek Ray, Production Companies: Wave Cinemas, Crouching Tiger, Shital Bhatia, Distributed by Wave Cinemas

@khulkebolo @neelnabh

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