A painfully boring watch

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By Despite good intentions, gali gali chor hai is a painfully boring watch
  • Published 6.02.12

In the age of Kalmadi and Raja, CWG and 2G, Chidambaram and Swamy, everyone has a foot forward to jump on to the anti-corruption bandwagon and cash in on the Anna Hazare phenomenon. Gali Gali Chor Hai must have sounded like a winner on paper — the plight of a middle-class banker in small-town India caught in a web of corrupt touts, greedy middlemen and unprincipled law enforcers. But what do they say about just good intentions not being enough? For what translates on screen is amateurishly executed and painstakingly dull, with director Rumy Jafry scratching the surface, but stopping short of delving deep.

Bharat (Akshaye Khanna) is an Everyman. Married for five years, Bharat works for peanuts as an honest bank cashier in Bhopal who hasn’t been able to make the leap to a managerial position. The high point in Bharat’s life is playing Hanuman in the local nautanki troupe, but without the ability to pull strings, his ambition to play Ram some day also seems like a distant dream. With pressure from local politicians for his all-important vote mounting as election mania reaches fever-pitch, Bharat finds his world going topsy-turvy when he gets embroiled in a trivial court case. Sucked into the vicious vortex of corruption and bribery, Bharat is forced to grease palms, line up false witnesses and hobnob with petty criminals. However, when justice is pronounced in his favour, Bharat finds that his problems have only just started.

For years, the Pankaj Kapur TV sitcom Office Office kept us glued to Musaddilal’s fight against bribery and corruption in the government rank and file. Though Gali Gali Chor Hai sets up the story of a common man’s helplessness in the face of corruption well, it is unable to build on the promising premise, giving us a film that lulls the viewer to snoreland with its dull storytelling only to jolt him rudely awake with its loud background score. Which is a pity, because parts of the film — Bharat’s trysts with in-your-face corruption, for example — are well done. Even the sub-plot of how his Hanuman is forced to play second fiddle to the politician’s brother — who uses his political clout to grab the role of Ram and does a terrible job of it — has a few nice touches. However, Bharat’s wife Nisha (Shriya Saran) suspecting him of having an affair with their paying guest Amita (Mugdha Godse) looks forced and does nothing to make the film a less slumberous watch.

By the time Bharat turns around and slaps the system — taking a cue from Ajay Devgn’s Bajirao in Singham — you are too comfortably zzzzzing in your plex seat to sit up and take notice.

If you are still in the mood to give Gali Gali Chor Hai a chance, then Akshaye Khanna’s earnestness and Annu Kapoor’s slimy cop act could be the reasons. Satish Kaushik as Akshaye’s helpless father also turns in a good act but the women function as mere props.

Anu Malik’s music is another huge letdown — despite singer Kailash Kher making an appearance in the title track at vantage points in the film. Veena Malik shakes her booty to the item number Chhanno — in one sequence, she even wears a bustier fitted with light bulbs!

That’s the only time this dreadfully dull film lights up. Quite literally.

Priyanka Roy

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