Critics' review: Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns will overwhelm you

By Hindustan Times

Film: Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns
Cast: Jimmy Sheirgill, Mahie Gill, Soha Ali Khan and Irrfan Khan
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia

Plot: After losing his legs, Saheb (Jimmy Shergill) becomes wheelchair-bound and more unpleasant and wicked, particularly towards his alcoholic Biwi (Mahie Gill), who is now a politician. In walks Gangster (Irrfan Khan), also of royal lineage, who is determined to settle scores with Saheb.

Ananya Bhattacharya, Zee News
There are times when you are so overwhelmed by a film that you need some time for it to sink in. This is one such film. Director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns is nothing short of a miracle. It pervades the senses, lets you clutch your sides out of laughter, leaves you in tears, makes you gape at it in wonder – all in a mere span of 145 minutes. And that bit of time too flies away at an indescribable pace. Before one knows, Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns captures one to the limit of their last blink, mesmerises one and leaves them with a plethora of inexpressible emotions. If its prequel Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster was a terrific film, this one is two-fold so. Or maybe manifold. Dhulia’s script is original, fresh and takes the story forward from where the last one had ended. There are well fleshed out characters who slip into their roles with breathtaking ease. Not one character is wasted; not one moment seems unnecessary. In times when prolixity is passé, Dhulia revels in holding a viewer’s attention span for the entire duration: one wayward glance, and one regrets missing something!

Jimmy Sheirgill’s act is spectacular to say the least. The sheer brilliance with which he portrays the frustrations of a man confined to a wheelchair, who can do nothing but watch his whimsical wife squander his work away, is extremely laudable. Mahie Gill – the Bertha Mason-ish Biwi – who shoots a gun with as much ease as she does her glances, is terrific – for want of a more intense word. She packs her performance with extreme poignancy on the one hand and shrewdness on the other. Nobody can even afford to neglect either Mahie the actor or Madhvi the character. While you can’t help not admiring her accomplishments with the brain, you end up feeling sad for this woman who can stop short at nothing in her quest of getting her Saheb back.

The screenplay calls for an ear-splitting applause. So does the background score, the camera work, the art direction, the nuances, the subtle pot shots at the contemporary politics of the day, the acting – in a nutshell, everything. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s film is a call to the masses to return to the real India of the hinterland; the place where earthy, solid stories exist. Places where the women can unabashedly say, “Hume mard hi kyu milte hai... Shayar kyun nahi milte!” (Why do we get just men... why not poets!)
Verdict: Four stars from me for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s masterpiece. Do NOT miss this one!
Rating: ****

Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV
A revenge drama with a dash of political satire and a double love triangle dovetailed into a dark thriller, writer-director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s follow-up to Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster is an intense, effervescent and eventually melancholic film. Flush with vibrant colours and cinematic flourishes, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns is a riveting and buoyant film that, despite being nearly two and a half hours long, manages to keep the viewer interested in the strange, strange ways of men and women bent upon pressing the self-destruct button.

The dramatic narrative core of the film is suffused with a delirious quality that is both delightful and disorienting. The film has many wonderfully written sequences followed by stray moments that aren’t that convincing. But the dialogues, penned by director and scriptwriter Tigmanshu Dhulia himself, are never less than sparkling. The sequel is certainly better in one respect – the tragic climax is sharp, unfussy and marked by great sense of economy. The film does not end in a messy bloodbath. The final few scenes are sprung upon the audience without much warning, which perceptibly enhances their impact.
Verdict: As for the film as a whole, there can be no room for any doubt. It is recommended unequivocally.
Rating: ***1/2

Subhash K. Jha, IANS
In what could be regarded as a sequence of subliminal comic relief, a little-known actor Rajeev Gupta gives this film, suffused in powerhouse performances, its best performance as a slimy politician caught watching porn on his laptop in his office by a goon masquerading as a journalist.

The sequence is hilarious and at the same time sobering. While the self-important buffoonish politician’s predicament raises laughter, his hypocrisy also raises issues about a parliamentary crisis that is anything but funny. Dhulia spares us the verbal vulgarity. Admirably the characters trade outrageous insults without abusing mothers and sisters in the process. At one point when the bankrupt zamindar Aditya Pratap Singh (Jimmy) is repulsed by his inebriated wife’s sexual advances, he tells her, “Your seduction is so cheap I feel like paying for it. But I don’t have the chillar (loose coins) to do so.”

SBAGR has its flaws, oh yes! The “raj-neeti” of the second-half melts into a kind of uneasy sexual tension. We don’t know whether to laugh or cry in a sequence like the one where Mahie, after inviting the cheesy Irrfan character into a posh hotel room for an afternoon of drunken pleasures, suddenly sobs, “I don’t have any friends”.
Verdict: This is not a film you can fall in love with. Its drama of dreadful disenchantment doesn’t allow you the luxury of affection.
Rating: ****

Madhureeta Mukherjee, Times Of India
Mind you, this is not regular gangsta film; with usual showcasing of arms, ammunition, bangs and blasts. Yes, it has explosives of another kind - 'bangs' (it's a total 'bed'-bangers ball, what gall); Weapons of Mass Seduction and politics of bistar and beyond. This sequel, a strange mix of foul games and passionplay, unfolds with a crippled Saheb (Jimmy) holding onto the last vestiges of his shrinking Kingly pomp and glory.

Irrfan is absolutely terrific; he shows fury, passion, envy, pride with such utter conviction that you crave to see more of him onscreen. He's undoubtedly one of the finest performers we can boast of. Jimmy is excellent as the poignant, wheel-chair bound saheb exuding power. Mahie Gill is volatile as the unfulfilled woman desiring more, though her drunken drawl often leaves us more dry than high. Soha plays her part with subtlety and sophistication.
Verdict: This may not be Tigmanshu's best, but it's a movie with more balls than most cinema can flaunt.
Rating: ***1/2

Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama
Subsequent to the colossal critical success of the first part, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster [in 2011], Tigmanshu Dhulia, an avant garde storyteller of the present times, dives into his first sequel, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns. However, unlike the trend of attempting sequels without connecting with the earlier part, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns makes an effort to take the story of Saheb, Biwi and Gangster forward, with additional characters this time around.

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns is a sequel in the truest sense. The backdrop of aristocracy remains integral. But romance is notches higher this time. Also, politics, jealousy, revenge, betrayal and deceit are integrated in the screenplay, besides drama and sensuality, of course. However, unlike the first part, sensuality is toned down considerably this time. Ready for fireworks?

With Tigmanshu at the helm of affairs, be assured, you are in for a treat as far as performances are concerned. In fact, not just the title leads, but each and every actor in the cast delivers top-quality performances. At the same time, the characters are so well penned that no one deprives the limelight from the other. Irrfan is simply outstanding. The magnificence that Tigmanshu and Irrfan created in Haasil, Charas and Paan Singh Tomar is evident in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns as well. Jimmy is commanding yet again, pulling off his performance with remarkable ease. Mahie plays the scheming wife with accomplishment. The various shades in her character provide her ample scope to excel yet again. Soha looks the part completely and despite the presence of powerful actors, she stands out with a solid performance.

It's great to see the talented veteran Raj Babbar in top form after a hiatus. He gets his character spot-on. Pravesh Rana makes a confident big screen debut. He's competent. Deepraj Rana conveys a lot through silence, which is the hallmark of a fine actor. Sitaram Panchal, Rajeev Gupta [as the politician], Rajesh Khera, Sujay Shankarwar [as Rudy] and Anjana Sukhani (makes an appearance in a song) are adequate.
Verdict: This film may not be Tigmanshu Dhulia's finest work, but it has moments that prove his supremacy as a storyteller. Watch it for the intriguing characters and terrific performances!
Rating: ***1/2