Well Done Abba
Reliance Big Home, Rs 299
There was a time Shyam Benegal used to fire up his hero or heroine. It used to spur them to fight the system — whether patriarchy (Bhumika), feudalism (Ankur) or social hypocrisy (Mandi). Now, at 76, Benegal perhaps sees the systemic flaws as a grand farce. His heroes — whether it’s Mahadev of Welcome to Sajjanpur or Armaan Ali of Well Done Abba — try to beat the system with its own flaws, with satire by their side and uncharacteristic music on their lips.
Armaan, an unlettered driver working in Mumbai, gets home to Chikatpalli outside Hyderabad to get his daughter Muskan married. He finds his twin Rehman, a fraudster, absconding and his locality amid a water crisis.
His long face-off with the local administration starts when he tries to get a well dug on his ground through a government scheme aimed at the poorest.
Boman Irani as Armaan and Rehman, Minissha Lamba as Muskan and Benegal’s regulars such as Rajat Kapoor, Ila Arun and Salim Ghouse are all as tepid as the script.
The problem maybe that the film is written in Dakhni — a form of Urdu that’s survived in the South for centuries and the tongue that mothered Mumbaiya words such as karenga and kaikoo. It’s the language Benegal heard around him while growing up in Hyderabad. But as the ‘making of’ feature shows, it’s new to the rest of the crew that includes writer Ashok Mishra. To know what they were trying to lip, watch a film called The Angrez on YouTube.