Movie review – Banjo – Falls short in the entertainment quotient

Movie review – Banjo – Falls short in the entertainment quotient
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By Joginder Tuteja

Rating: **

When a film is pitched as a musical entertainer then it (obviously) needs to get two factors right – music and entertainment. In case of Banjo, while the music does work (albeit in parts), it is the overall entertainment quotient where one feels the film ends up lacking. Yes, there are moments that bring in the smiles (in the first half) and then also engage (in the second half). However, there are many unnecessary pointers that come in intermittently that break the flow, hence resulting in Banjo turning out to be a film which is nowhere close to what one would have expected out of the genre.

For starters, the promos never gave an impression that this one would have action ingredients as well. The fact of the matter is that band rivalry forms a definite thread in the film’s narrative and due to this, there are 2-3 action sequences in there as well. Now while this could have worked as a pleasant surprise, that’s not really the case as the villain per se is a new face in Bollywood and his characterisation is truly patchy to lend such an importance in the film. Then there is more in there, ranging from builders, corporates, land grabbing, marketing pitch of slum dwellers and other angles coming into picture that just takes the film in a direction that belies the very title of the film – Banjo.

This is the reason why you like whenever the focus of the film shifts towards music. Nargis Fakhri’s interaction with Riteish and his band members, her scenes with partner Luke Kenny, the pitch that she makes to the music companies, the Ganesha songs at the beginning and then the end, and most importantly the ‘Rada’ track in the second half bring in definite high points in the film. These are the portions that you grab and you also end up feeling that the film would have been much better had the focus stayed on Riteish, Nargis, the band members and their antics.

However, this doesn’t quite turn out to be the case and what turns out to be a tad off-putting is the continued emphasis on slums and the life out there. It could well have been fair right at the beginning in order to establish the characters (which is done well). However to have most of the first half of the film set in the slums and even an entire love song picturized around gutters and filth is an experiment that is stretched too far.

That said, Riteish Deshmukh needs to be complimented for the conviction that he shows in the subject and it’s treatment. Withing first five minutes of his introduction, he makes sure that you forget that comic Riteish from the likes of Housefull and Masti series, and instead see him as an artist with slums bearing. He gets the lingo, body language and the mannerisms right and though the weak script and repetitive dialogues cause a distraction to his characterisation, his experience manages to help some of the scenes stay afloat. He is also supported well by his three friends while Nargis, in a reasonably meaty role, makes her presence felt. She acts well with the right emotions (at most points) and looks great (at every point).

Same can’t be said about the film where director Ravi Jadhav doesn’t quite manage to engage you entirely, hence resulting in a largely disappointing feel once you step out of the theater.

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