Direction : Viren Basoya
Writer : Dinesh Gautam
Cast : Imran Zahid, Bhumika Singh, Akshita Sharma, Viren Basoya, Molly Gambhir, Oorja Garg, Rajiv Mishra, Ankur Upadhay and Dhirendra Gupta


Anil D’ Souza

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BAAT NIKLEGI TOH is a play that wants to be a movie. When the story is presented by the eternally rebellious raconteur, Mahesh Bhatt, then expectations will run high. One expects the narrative to explore human nature with passion and a degree of truthfulness that sublimely underlines most of the non-conformist fimmaker's experimental and haunting works.

BAAT NIKLEGI TOH, on the other hand, has amateurish performances and a series of ambitious vignettes clumsily stitched together. The attempt is to examine complex social dilemmas that the country has experienced such as the aftermath of the Mandal commission report on reservations, the communal divide and the class-based discrimination that Ajay Mishra, our self-effacing protagonist deals with in the village where he hails from. Ajay concludes that a surefire way to get rid of the social contempt that he is plagued with due to his poverty, is by becoming an IAS officer.

So in his quest for acceptance and success, he travels to the big city and secures a humble PG dwelling. He then predictably falls in love with Kavita, his landlord's pretty daughter, who insists on delivering her lines in disregard to the narrative's flow, such as inviting Ajay inside her house even before he has knocked on the door. Ajay also has a bum-chum, a co-aspirant to the Services who prefers to drown his own inadequacies in booze filled evenings, exhorting Ajay to lighten up and indulge in a swig or two.

But Ajay is resolute, at least in the beginning. However, after failing to clear his exams a few times, he starts to question his resolve. Kavita volunteers to reason that perhaps all this fooling around with her is undoing his earnest efforts. So she does what every self-sacrificing lover in B-grade cinema has done. She fakes a love story with someone else and asks Ajay to find another PG to hole up in since she needs these digs for her soon-to-arrive fiancé.

Ajay is broken hearted. Should he throw in the towel and head back to his village or give the Services one last, single-minded purposeful shot? His good-for-nothing friend arrives in time to help him decide. In between all of this and perhaps to break the monotony of the self-righteous social messages that are being gawkily streamed, we are invited to watch Kavita's drunkard bumbling father being enticed by an unctuous young fellow who has his oily eyes set on her.

The narrative is set in a flash-back format where Ajay, the young ISA officer recounts his journey in creating social and economic standing for himself. By the end of it, he has shown his detractors good and proper. But what about Kavita, his love who left him? This matter still remains unresolved and just as a good family movie has to wrap up all open ends, here too, the good interviewer plays cupid on national TV and all's well that ends well.

BAAT NIKLEGI TOH could have done with some focused direction without erupting into fits and starts on the social issues interspersed with the life and times of Ajay Mishra. This production, more likely, recalls the amateur dramas that got enacted in MIG housing societies, long before the day and the age of the Internet.

*Anil D'Souza enjoys commenting on drama and its versatility in mirroring our lives.

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