"If music be the food of love, play on" is a famous quote from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night which emphasizes the importance of music in life. India is a nation that is blessed with diversity that is evident in all aspects be it language, cuisines, customs & even music. Musicians have always been held in high regard in our country irrespective of which nationality they belonged to which explains why many of the Pakistani artists have a huge fan base here. Even Chris Martin of Coldplay & current creative director of Global Citizen Concert announced at the event in New York last night that they will be performing in Mumbai in November. Coincidentally, this week we have a music based movie "Banjo" hitting the screens which focuses on the street musicians in Mumbai. But it remains to be seen whether it was indeed music to the ears or a migraine inducer???
Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) is an extortionist for the local corporator who also doubled up as a banjo artist with his gang of friends for functions in their locality. Far from the slums of Mumbai in New York, Chris (Nargis Fakhri) an aspiring musician happens to listen to their music & gets mesmerized with it. She decides to seek them out to form a band & compose a couple of tracks for a music competition. However, tracking them down wasnt going to be easy & even if she did manage to, will she be able to inculcate discipline into these ruffians???
Since I am not so well versed with Marathi movies, I have to admit that I didnt know about Ravi Jadhav who is said to be a respectable name in the fraternity. He already has a couple of National Film Awards to his credit courtesy of his Marathi movies such as Natarang & Balgandharva. "Banjo" is his debut Bollywood venture & typical to his culture, he has chosen banjo music which is an indispensable part of festivals in Maharashtra. It has been scripted by Ravi along with Kapil Sawant & Nikhil Mehrotra and kudos to the trio for choosing a credible subject. However, they failed to delve into the details of it & chose to take a tried & tested path rather than offer anything unique. Vishal-Shekhar does impress with some of the tracks though it doesnt stick for long.
Riteish has always been part of multi-starers, so it felt kinda different to see him shoulder a movie on his own. He has done a decent job as the protagonist with his body language & lends credibility to the character. Dharmesh Yelande as Grease was fine along with Luke Kenny while Aditya Kumar & Ram Menon does manage to evoke a couple of chuckles. As for Nargis Fakhri, she yet again proved as to why she should not been acting.
Verdict: Apart from the Maharashtra circuit, the film will barely make its presence felt in the other regions. Riteish's credentials as a solo hero isnt great & his cause hasnt been helped with this venture also. Despite having a subject that could have been well exploited, it turned out to be a damp squid as it resorted to predictable formulas & cliches. In short, dont bother!!!
Ravi Jadhav is a filmmaker whom I adore, for making Marathi films like Balak Palak (2012) and Natarang (2010), to name a few. Unfortunately, his foray into Bollywood with a musical drama does not really impress.
Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) is a small-time extortionist who works for a local politician in the day and plays street music with his squad in the night. When he meets Christina (Nargis Fakhri), an aspiring musician from the Big Apple who is in Mumbai in lookout for a music group whom she can collaborate with, Taraat instantly falls head over heels in love with her. This drives him to become a better man and subsequently forces him to cajole his group to make music so that Christina can participate in a talent contest. This nth variation of a seemingly original story is what the film is all about, along with some boring side arcs that only add noise to this otherwise sloppy "single".
Banjo tries too hard to showcase a story, where in reality, there is none. It's a faulty re-rendering of stories about aspiring musicians who want to make it big in this competitive world. (Did anyone say Rock On!! (2008)? Maybe Rock On!! 2 (2016)? No? Never mind.) And how do you do that? By growing long hair, looking dope, and banging on instruments like they are scrap materials. Taraat is a delinquent person who just wants to get into Christina's pants, but hopes to take it slow. The comedy is very average and will only lead to two to four chuckles throughout the 140-minute slow-moving affair.
Fakhri should probably just stop acting and stick to modelling. Her co-star Deshmukh tries hard, but one blames the fruitless script more. Supporting cast is mostly present to handle comedy, but are found to be accidentally inducing over-smart drama. Basically, the characters move here and there and bang on instruments in order to produce music which the audience are supposed to think is pure gold.
There's a sequence where Christina tries to improve the group's morale by citing success stories of popular musicians like 50 Cent, Jimi Hendrix, The Bee Gees, and Led Zeppelin. If you are a fan of at least one of these, you should skip Banjo and go see Parched (2016) instead.
BOTTOM LINE: Ravi Jadhav's "Banjo" is an ambitious film that fails because of poor writing and a very bad voice. Switch channels during the TV premiere.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES