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Halla Bol January 17, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Angry Protagonists + Old Fashioned social drama + strong screenplay + hard hitting dialogue – that’s roughly the formula Rajkumar Santoshi used in the nineties for his films like Ghayal, Ghatak, Damini and China Gate. Somehow after that he never has been able to recreate the magic of those earlier films. If there is one reason to watch Halla Bol it has to be to see Santoshi return to form doing what he does best.

There have been too many criticisms labelled at this film….as being too outdated, preachy, melodramatic etc. To a certain extent it seems justified only because in recent times the theme of public apathy has been brought on screen/highlighted in the media quite a few times. Yet this is a very honest effort on a very relevant theme. An unscrupulous superstar Sameer Khan/Ashfaque (Ajay Devgan) is a witness to a murder at a high profile party. However, he denies seeing anything there (and so do the other celebs present there). However, his conscience hits him hard when he reminisces his past – his conscience-keepers being his guru Siddhu (Pankaj Kapur) and his wife Sneha (Vidya Balan). Now against all odds Sameer then has to bring the killers to justice.

There are so many direct and indirect references to real events and people – a straightforward invitation for controversy; no wonder I read a couple of days back an article about a friction between Devgan and the Khans. Maybe during the sequence mocking film stars doing ads, Devgan could have been more sportive by not excluding products which are endorsed by him. If this film would have worked at the box-office you sure would have got to read more gossip.

The film abounds in “punch” dialogues combined with whistle-worthy moments and this is precisely what makes one feel that Santoshi is back in form. Despite it’s box office performance, Ajay Devgan should be more than happy for he has delivered yet another fine performance and which should hopefully make people forget Cash and Ramgopal Varma ki Aag. Pankaj Kapur gets a meaty role in a mainstream film after a long time and he is brilliant as usual. Vidya Balan and Darshan Zariwala have nice supporting roles too. The few songs (Sukhwinder Singh) are well placed in the movie and are of short duration enough not to slow the pace of the film.

On the whole Halla Bol is a very commendable piece of work which I enjoyed watching….the reason for its failure is mostly because theme isn’t novel enough and the fact that Santoshi’s style of film-making (old school but powerful) may not appeal today to a large proportion of the audience.