Movie Review: Lage Raho Munnabhai ...

By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

imageFilm: "Lage Raho Munnabhai"; Starring:" Sanjay Dutt,

Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan, Boman Irani, Diya Mirza, Jimmy Shergil;

Director: Raj Kumar Hirani; Rating: *** 1/2

It's all a chemical 'locha' (aberration). Munnabhai meets Mahatma

Gandhi and they get along like a house on fire. The prophetic leader

from the past has a blast as he tells Munna (Sanjay Dutt) how to deal

with an avaricious builder (Boman Irani) and other problems in

life.

It looks like Circuit (Arshad Warsi) has competition this time. Even

as he remains fiercely loyal to his mentor Munna, the latter shifts his

attention to the lovely Radio Jockey Jahanvi and Mahatma Gandhi. The

father of the nation keeps appearing in Munna's daytime reverie to

advise the benign gangster on love, life and other vagaries of being

human.

Munna and Circuit, arguably cinema's most adorable and roguish

reformists since Laurel and Hardy, go about the business of generating

humour out of the pathos of human conditions. The sequences, all

fiercely path breaking, have us in splits.

Watch the love-lorn Munnabhai answer a Gandhian quiz on a phone-in

radio quiz with the help of kidnapped professors... it's one of the

most comically animated sequences seen in movies of the new

millennium.

To look at "Lage Raho Munnabhai" as a 'serious comedy' is to

seriously undermine the motivations and impact of the series.

Playing the street-smart ruffians with cool hearts, Sanjay Dutt and

Arshad Warsi bring a chirpy enchantment to their roles. Their parts

have hefty hearts, but there's more. There's also innocence and a

desire to make the world a better place.

Although some of the music and jokes are derived from the first

film, this time Hirani takes the duo further down the road of

moralistic mirth to create what can easily be deemed the most

significant satire in Indian cinema since "Munnabhai MBBS".

Munna and Mahatma Gandhi make an interesting combination. While

outwardly the two seem as disparate in time and personality as Sanjay

Dutt and his father Sunil Dutt, both are in essence all heart and no

guile.

The Munna-Mahatma dialogues sparkle with satirical wisdom, thanks in

no small part to Dutt and Dilip Prabhavalkar (who plays Gandhiji with

tongue-in-cheek conviction). The dialogues by Hirani and Abhijeet Joshi

constantly probe the moral and social system of the nation without

getting hysterical on homilies.

The film makes light of national issues without trivialising the

cult of conscience.

"Lage Raho Munnabhai" is a parable on love and companionship.

Whether it's Munnabhai's bonding with his faithful companion Circuit,

or Munna courting his ladylove (Vidya Balan) and Gandhism, the

narrative dodges false notes by remaining sincere to the

characters.

Every actor gets a chance to be special in this enriching take on

non-violent protests. Sanjay Dutt proves yet again that he has shaped

into a fine performer who can mingle poignancy with satire the way Raj

Kapoor did in films like "Shri 420" and "Awara", or like Sunil Dutt did

in "Milan" and "Meherbaan".

But Warsi manages to steal some scenes from Dutt... That's how

effective he is! Surely he's one of the finest young actors today.

Vidya Balan is gloriously glamorous and likeable though she could

have toned down those expressions of coyness.

However, some emotional moments, like those between Jimmy Shergil

and his screen-father Parikshit Sahni or the flamboyant wedding finale

starring Diya Mirza, do not have the impact one thought they would.

Though a wee short of tears, "Lage Raho Munnabhai" goes a long way

in creating an endearing parable on the importance of being earnest in

a world of growing duplicity.

The narrative is so heart-warming and the characters so full of

human kindness, that you wait for the plot to be weighed down by

excessive self-importance.

The fall never happens. "Lage Raho Munnabhai" remains true to its

characters till the end.

One of Munna's favourite words is 'daring'. It must also be Raj

Kumar Hirani's favourite as he dares to dream of Gandhian peace in a

world of extravagant cynicism and rancour.

When the aggressive Munna turns his other cheek, you actually wonder

if Gandhian values still have a place in our hearts.

They most certainly do have a place in Hirani's art.

Bollywood.com Rating: 3

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