Fun and freedom

Bunty Aur Babli

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 3.06.05

Bunty Aur Babli

Director: Shaad Ali Sahgal
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Raj Babbar, Rameshwari, Kiran Joneja, Puneet Issar,Prem Chopra, Ranjeet, Ravi Bhaswani, Tanya Zaetta, Sanjay Mishra, Pratima Kazmi, Lilliput, (Aishwarya Rai)

Small towns are often graveyards of young dreams. Places where love stories begin with a hesitant smile from a half-open window, flourish on rooftops where she comes to lay out the mango pickle and he pretends to study for the IAS examination and die with the arrival of a turmeric-touched wedding card.

In these slow, backwater kasbahs, fine young men often end up as frustrated municipal clerks. And smart teenage girls who wear sleeveless tops at the college annual day function and dream of being Madhu Sapre are mothers of five before they turn 25.

But Bunty (Abhishek Bachchan) and Babli (Rani Mukherjee) ? the two protagonists in director Shaad Ali Sahgal’s latest film ? don’t want to be frogs in a stinking sea of shitwater. They want a taste of the sky. So they run away from home to fulfil their ambitions, find each other at a railway station, speak the most memorable opening line in Hindi film history ? Mere saath bathroom chal sakte ho ? and discover the joys of being 420s. And they get addicted to the new occupation even as a relentless cop Dashrath Singh (Amitabh Bachchan) follows their trail.

Producer Aditya Chopra’s story doesn’t do justice to the Natwarlal bit in the plot. There are no intelligent details in the gags B&B pull off. But the film never runs short of fun because the script crackles with the crispest of one-liners and resonates with a bunch of fine songs that help illustrate the minds of its characters.

The acting is tops, too. The Bachchans are good. Item girl Aishwarya Rai has seldom looked as sensuous before. But, let’s not pretend, this is Rani Mukherjee’s movie. No Bollywood heroine acts with such abandon and charm and adds as much star value to a project as her.

In essence, Bunty Aur Babli is an on-the-road flick about a boy and girl in search of fun and freedom rather than a story of two cons. To capture the splintered yearnings of smalltown India which watches Aastha channel in the morning and FTV at night is a difficult and ambitious task. But like his protagonists, director Shaad Ali Sahgal pulls it off. Bravely. Almost.

Avijit Ghosh