There are times when you are so overwhelmed by a film that you need some time for it to sink in. This is one such film. Director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns’ is nothing short of a miracle. It pervades the senses, lets you clutch your sides out of laughter, leaves you in tears, makes you gape at it in wonder – all in a mere span of 145 minutes. And that bit of time too flies away at an indescribable pace. Before one knows, ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns’ captures one to the limit of their last blink, mesmerises one and leaves them with a plethora of inexpressible emotions. If its prequel ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster’ was a terrific film, this one is twofold so. Or maybe manifold.
Dhulia’s script is original, fresh and takes the story forward from where the last one had ended. There are well fleshed out characters who slip into their roles with breathtaking ease. Not one character is wasted; not one moment seems unnecessary. In times when prolixity is passé, Dhulia revels in holding a viewer’s attention span for the entire duration: one wayward glance, and one regrets missing something!
‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster’ ends with Madhvi (Mahie Gill) – the Biwi – killing Babloo – the Gangster (Randeep Hooda). Aditya Pratap Singh (Jimmy Sheirgill as Saheb), meanwhile, is paralysed waist down from a gunshot. Madhvi takes over the politics of the area and seals sympathy votes in her favour, and consequently is elected the MLA from her territory.
Saheb and Biwi’s strained marital relationship, glimpses of which were visible in the earlier part, have escalated to indomitable levels now. So have Biwi’s alcohol consumption, eccentricity and pining for her husband. Aditya, meanwhile, takes a liking to his stepmother’s friend’s daughter Ranjana (Soha). Ranjana is in love with Indrajeet Singh (Irrfan), a prince whose ancestors had lost their kingdom to the neighbouring king – Aditya Pratap’s ancestor – and who is fondly called ‘Raja Bhaiyya’ by his people.
When ‘Bunny Uncle’ (Raj Babbar) – Soha’s father – hears that Aditya Pratap, a married man, has taken a fancy to his daughter, his rage is understandable. Just that the Saheb is a man who can get Ranjana’s brother arrested in Dubai on false charges and then arm-twist her father to get her engaged to him. Indrajeet doesn’t hesitate to announce war on his ancestral enemy’s clan – and says, “Jung hogi... ghamasan hogi...” (There will be war. A dangerous one.)
In his journey to reclaiming his love from the scheming Saheb, Indra charms the Biwi, is deviated on the way, goes to every length and breadth of what his commitment to Ranjana entails him to do... In between, there are politicians to be tackled, people to be killed off, his police inspector of a younger brother (Parvesh Rana) to be taken under his wing. The journey of ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns’ is one fraught with twists in every turn of the tale.
Jimmy Sheirgill’s act is spectacular to say the least. The sheer brilliance with which he portrays the frustrations of a man confined to a wheelchair, who can do nothing but watch his whimsical wife squander his work away, is extremely laudable.
Mahie Gill – the Bertha Mason-ish Biwi – who shoots a gun with as much ease as she does her glances, is terrific – for want of a more intense word. She packs her performance with extreme poignancy on the one hand and shrewdness on the other. Nobody can even afford to neglect either Mahie the actor or Madhvi the character. While you can’t help not admiring her accomplishments with the brain, you end up feeling sad for this woman who can stop short at nothing in her quest of getting her Saheb back.
Irrfan Khan... how does one begin speaking of him! Irrfan’s Indrajeet Singh – the prince who wants to be the knight in shining armour for his damsel who calls him out in her distress – is one that might go down in the history of Hindi cinema as one of the most powerful of characters in this era. The actor leaves one laughing hard at his comic antics, makes one admire him in moments such as when he shoots a Polo ball at Aditya Pratap Singh, and at other times, leaves one in tears. For an actor who can make an entire gamut of emotions come alive on a viewer’s face, there’s hardly anything that needs to be said about his skills. And Irrfan does so with extreme potency.
Soha Ali Khan, in her moments, is exquisite. Distressed at times, in the throes of a transactional relationship, Soha leaves her viewers mesmerised with her performance. As an addition to the team of ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns’, this Khan delivers a power-packed act. Parvesh Rana as the cop justifies the fact that years of Television have done wonders to chisel his acting skills. The supporting cast of the film is entirely admirable, and Raj Babbar – a brilliant actor – finds a special mention.
The screenplay calls for an ear-splitting applause. So does the background score, the camera work, the art direction, the nuances, the subtle pot shots at the contemporary politics of the day, the acting – in a nutshell, everything.
Tigmanshu Dhulia’s film is a call to the masses to return to the real India of the hinterland; the place where earthy, solid stories exist. Places where the women can unabashedly say, “Hume mard hi kyu milte hai... Shayar kyun nahi milte!” (Why do we get just men... why not poets!)
Four stars from me for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s masterpiece. Do NOT miss this one!
(The views expressed by the author are personal)