Cast: Sanjay Misha, Pragati Pandey, Vishwa Mohan Badola, Ranjan Chhabra, Pramod Pathak, Zakir Hussain, Sitaram Panchal, Disha
Director: Anshul Sharma
Rating: Three stars
Oh, what a wonderful feeling it is when a film you have zero expectations from surprises you with its sweet honesty.
'Saare Jahaan Se Mehnga...' is a small film made up of actors we mostly see as supporting cast and their extras, and yet it’s more engaging that the nonsense that most stars churned out last year.
It’s an amateurish effort and that shows right from the opening credits where the images are not in sync with the lyrics. But its delightful story — satire pico-ed with irony — is touching and very real.
Writers Rupesh Thapliyal and Vijay Manral, and director Anshul Sharma give garibi, cinema’s worst cliche, a make-over.
In a minutely-visualised and perfectly created lower income group world, we meet Puttan Pal (Sanjay Misha). He has a wife, Noori (Pragati Pandey), a grumpy father, Nagpal (Vishwa Mohan Badola), and a useless younger brother, Gopal (Ranjan Chhabra). Puttan has an odd job - he mates local cows with a sarkari sand. His wife runs a beauty parlour in the house itself and entices customers to get their hair trimmed by offering free eye-brow threading. Yet they can barely make ends meet.
With scenes about living life on a tight budget — a bride is tempted but can’t afford to get her full legs waxed, men who turn off their scooters when driving on a downward slope, letting gravity do the job instead, and disturbing moments when men thank god for keeping them beaulad — the film beautifully captures urban garibi.
In this locality, also lives Vedpal (Sitaram Panchal), a cycle repair man, who, while pumping air into cycles tyres, tries to pump some josh and akrosh into residents. The agenda of his daily meeting is simple -the Rs 280 lakh-crore black money that's parked in Swiss Bank accounts must be brought back to India.
And when it is, every Indian will get Rs 4 lakh. The criminal absurdity of this fact is captured beautifully in a scene were though Vedpal has scribbled the number with all its zeroes, people want to know if it’s a number or an “andon ki dukan”.
A storm is brewing in the lanes of forgotten residential colonies in India and 'Saare Jahaan…' offers a gentle, genial whiff of it.
Few films are able to capture that with honesty and humour. Though the film is cinematically weak, it stays focused on telling its story with a freshness that’s rare in big budget films.