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‘Banjo’ movie review: A musical sans melody

Jyotsna Basotia/thestatesman.com |

Film: Banjo

Director: Ravi Jadhav

Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Nargis Fakhri, Dharmesh Yelande

Rating: *

Loud bangs, thumping strums, rowdy rhythms and rattling thrums—Banjo has it all! But for a film on music, Ravi Jadhav&’s directorial doesn’t have even one hummable song.

Even if you somehow succeed to stand the clamorous beats, the uninteresting and mind-numbing drama beats you (literally).

Opening with the robust Ganpati celebrations, the film starts on a high note. As a desi-band from the slums plays music making people rave and revel, Luke Kenny happens to records it and sends it to his friend in New York–a DJ and an aspiring musician Chris, played by Nargis Fakhri.

Impressed with the throbbing pulse of the song, she decides to look out for the band to collaborate for a competition and goes all the way from New York to hunt them in India.

At this point, there&’s only one question in the mind – what was the director thinking?

Well, anyhow she lands in the city, and ends up in the same chawl where Ritiesh Deshmukh aka Taraat lives and makes friends with him, but he doesn’t reveal his identity to her. If you’re thinking it can’t get any more clichéd than this, the film will consistently prove you wrong. 

Taraat and his three band members Paper, Matter and Greese (you heard it right, these are the actual names) are the most popular in the chawl and seem to steal all the best shows from their rivals. Meanwhile, Chris auditions all the other bands from slums. 

Does Chris finally find her band members to know they were right under her nose? Do they succeed in making those two songs together for the competition? The dull drama would bore you to death until you finally find the answers.

Riteish plays the “stereotyped hero”, who can do it all. From being the best Banjo player, to single-handedly kicking off villians in the air with one foot, taking the foreigner around in the city and extorting money from goons. He doesn’t go overboard with his expressions or acting, but he does nothing that you would care to remember.

Leaving the city dwellers stunned as she sets foot in her crop tops, short skirts and racy dresses, Nargis Fakhri makes way for herself with sleeveless and backless costumes. Sadly, that&’s all she does, other than putting on a “fake” accent. In a few scenes, she carries a camera to capture the sad state of the slums. Her bogus way of clicking it without even holding it properly would put any real photographer to shame.

The three boys from the gang seem to bring a little respite to the film. From the lot, Dharmesh Yelande, who plays the role of Greeese, stands out. His performance and comic timing brings a dash of laughter to the boring narrative.

Zindagi do choice deta hai: ek, jo mile haath phaila ke le lo, doosra, jo maangta hai, haath uthha ke chheeen lo… – the dialogues in the film are corny, cheesy and passé. One scene in which Riteish sketches his idea of being with his loved one even if they have other dreams is the only one that bring a tad bit of emotions.

Rest of the story is so pretentious that you lose the chords of connection even with a fleeting glimpse, and end up noticing the technicalities of the film.

Splashing bright colours on the screen, the cinematography makes the scenes look great with flying dupattas and flashy costumes, but fails to bring the real picture of the slums in Mumbai.

Have you ever been in a theatre and felt that what&’s playing in front of you doesn’t make any sense? If not, Banjo would give the right dose of that feeling to you. 

Bohot neend aa raha hai… Riteish says in one of the scenes. The audience feels the same. You may yawn or even close your eyes, but you can’t even think of drifting off to a comforting sleep as the movie keeps you wide awake with its loud blaring noise in the background.