Sri Narayan Singh established himself as a message storyteller right in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha even though it made for a highly unrestrained, problematic, flawed cinema which didn't allow for entertainment and just thrived for a juicy message. I hated not only for it, but also for the stretched, lazy dialogue delivery which won't allow the audience to speak atleast one word. Which also means Batti Gul Meter Chalu is a considerable improvement despite being a message movie.
There's no problem in being message-y for most of the part of the film... any film, in fact. Take any film. Take Pink of Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, or the earlier Rang De Basanti. The way they handled the socio-political contexts of the themes they discussed was amazing. And on that note, the effort behind Batti Gul Meter Chalu must be appreciated. The vitality of regular electricity and the lack of its proper supply in the huglely picturesque small-town set of Uttarakhand carries proper charm with it. They style the narrative in such a way that you never feel like these people could have used a different state, a different topic in the state.
But the most right part of the film is that the story is not the issue. And this is the reason why this film, and not Toilet, is a stimulating experience. You have three friends, and two of these three crush on the common lady friend, Naughty. When Naughty realizes this, she makes a ridiculous deal- one week she'll be the girlfriend of the first friend, the other week, of the other. And from their starts the real story of the issue, and maybe it doesn't inspire you, it does shake you.
But the rest of it, especially the end of the first half plus the whole second half, is a shameful slog. It's stretched, and it squeezes all the excitement of the narrative. The performances of Shahid, Shraddha and Divyendu especially, don't help. Yami Gautam is just a fancy tag to the film's promotion and nothing adds to the story. There is order of events has been properly executed and that's good, but the rest has not been done in a way which could be admired. It's solid as well as loose. The first half, which is more convincing, also suffers from 'script bollywoodization'. There are romantic songs, cheesy lines and unpromising feel-good performances. Wbat could have been a thrilling adventure turns out to be only a handful of it.
And the promotional people are to be blamed, who gave away the plot premise right in the theatrical trailer. You know what's going to happen. Surprisingly, the climax is like nothing you ever imagined- yes, it's a happy ending- but it's filtered.
But the film, unfortunately, doesn't quite completely soar. I am going with two and a half stars. Not a complete waste of time, but it could have been much, much more than 'not unwatchable'.
It was one of the most exciting weekends in recent times courtesy of the high-profile matches which were on offer. This included Tiger Wood’s 80th PGA tour title, Team India’s emphatic win over the Paks & Federer led Team Europe’s successful defense of the Laver Cup. There were a couple of movies as well that I got to check out apart from the games & one of them happened to be Shree Narayan’s “Batti Gul Meter Chalu”. Since his previous putting was Akki’s “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha”, I was particularly interested to watch it after all this also seemed to be rooted in reality.
SK (Shahid Kapoor), Nauti (Shraddha Kapoor) & Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma) were childhood friends who stuck to each other through thick & thin. Among the three, SK was a sly lawyer who was always on the lookout for some quick bucks which he acquired through the blackmail of potential law offenders. Nauti was a fashion designer while Tripathi who was the meekest among the three ventured into business & opened a small-scale printing company. However, with constant power shortages in the region; it wasn’t easy to meet the demands of the customers & to make it worse, the electricity board also slapped him with outrageous bills for illogical reasons. Hoping to resolve the matter, he took it up with the ombudsman but to no avail. In the meantime, the friendship between the trio also crumbled due to the affair between Nauti & Tripathi which SK found it difficult to accept. Even though Tripathi turned towards SK for his legal support, the latter’s frosty behavior kinda made it evident that he wasn’t keen to help him out. So how was Tripathi going to get out of this mess before he loses his entire livelihood???
With a host of praise worthy movies to his credit, Shree Narayan has earned himself a respectable name as an editor & hopes to achieve the same as a director as well. This happens to be his third venture & just like “TEPK”, he has opted for a social issue like the lack of electricity & the cut-throat attitude of the electricity boards. He takes a considerable amount of time to set the stage & by the time, he does come to the core issue it doesn’t hit you as forcefully as one would expect. Apart from a couple of scattered chuckles, the court scenes don’t make us sit up & take notice, the blame for which also lies on Vipul Rawal’s rather average script which had the potential but fizzes out with barely a whimper. None of the technical aspects quite caught my eyes & hence doesn’t deserve a mention.
Despite the rather uninspiring making, I felt all the three main artists has done a reasonably good job with Shahid being the pick among the lot. He has given an earnest performance with his humour & energy while quite a few like Sudhir Pandey, Farida Jalal & Sushmita Mukherjee who are proven artists are wasted.
Verdict: With not much of a competition, the producers would have hoped that the movie will recreate the magic of “TEPK”. But with a rather uninspiring & bland script, it failed to impress the audience. In short, a rude shock to Shree who would have hoped that the people would back him after his previous praise worthy outing!!!
Batti Gul Meter Chalu, a film by Narayan Singh, is the story of inflated electricity bills and corruption in the system. The film certainly has a very relevant message to convey but the melodrama dominates. The melodramatic depictions as well as the running time of almost 3 hours make the film weak, but one can not ignore the issue raised in the film. Love triangle between the three lead protagonists of the film in the context of the issue raised is not too strong to hold the audience engaged. The film does convey that corrupt energy suppliers don’t allow small scale industries to prosper since most of the time these businesses are plagues with load shedding and power cuts but still getting inflated electricity bills.
The premise of the story is that a young entrepreneur Sundar (Divyendu Sharma) who starts a packaging company, gets mentally tortured with the inflated electricity bills. His childhood friend Sushil Kumar Pant aka SK (Shahid Kapoor), who does not generally have any ethical stand as far as his profession is concerned, acts as per his conscience and fights the court battle against the mighty Power Company. Shraddha who plays the role of their friend cum designer Lalita ‘Nauti’ Nautiyal joins SK in his fight against the corrupt system. The film does show that when the whole set of consumers join hand together even the mightiest corporation can become weak and end up yielding to the justice.
Set in Tehri in Uttarakhand, the film begins with two of the travellers in Bus – Vikas and Kalyan unraveling the story of three friends SK, Sundar and Lalita. The names Vikas and Kalyan are purposefully chosen to take a dig at the development and welfare activities of our country. Certain dialogues do project that how development and welfare activities are just on papers whereas not happening in reality in the afflicted areas. Sk is an advocate who makes money with out of court settlements. Sundar dreams of making it big through his entrepreneurial venture. And Lalita is a designer who thinks of herself as one of the best and superior designer. The first half of the film builds up the plot of how the friendship between the three gets converted into a love triangle. The second half is spent mostly in the court scenes where SK confronts with the defense lawyer Gulnaar (Yami Gautam).