In these crazy times when inflation is constantly on the rise and one doesn’t really know how to tackle it, ‘Saare Jahaan Se Mehnga’ claims to be a satire on the entire issue. Just one hitch: the makers have chosen an utterly ridiculously flawed premise as the basis of the film.
Director Anshul Sharma’s first single-handed stint with the hat does nothing to further his image. ‘Saare Jahaan Se Mehnga’, as a film, has some genuine laughs, a few poignant moments, but that’s just about it. Made in times when holding a viewer’s attention is a herculean task, the film here doesn’t really succeed. There are some good performances by the cast while others leave you with enormous yawns.
On to the story then. Traumatised by the constantly rising prices of commodities of daily use, right from food to stationery to everything else, a family of four doesn’t know how to make their ends meet. Nagpal (Vishwa Mohan Badola), Puttanpal (Sanjai Mishra), Noori (Pragati Pandey) and Gopal (Ranjan Chhabra), a family of four, struggles to sustain themselves in such a scenario. Puttarpal works in a Government-run ‘Pashu Prajnan Kendra’ (Animal Breeding Centre) which does nothing at all to alleviate his family’s pain. Nagpal, Puttan’s father, is an old man who doesn’t remember when he’d last had mutton and pines for good food. Noori, Puttan’s wife, runs a beauty parlour adjacent to the house where along with beauty tips, ‘other’ tips too are doled out to customers. Gopal, Puttan’s younger brother and the apple of his father’s eye, meanwhile, has been struggling with his XIIth exams, and unsuccessfully so. When everything appears bleak to the ‘Pal’ family, Puttan’s colleague offers him an idea – one that would change their lives for the better. This brilliant ‘idea’ is the basic premise of the entire story. It involves stroing up rations for three years - you get a drift as to what it is about. The way Puttan and his family fights 'mehngai' is what the story is all about.
As far as acting is concerned, Sanjai Mishra steps easily into the shoes of the middle-aged man struggling to provide his family with the most basic of essential necessities, thanks to his acting prowess. Most of the time, it is this man for whom the film appears watchable. Veteran actor Vishwa Mohan Badola as the old doting father bordering on senility does a wholehearted job of playing his character. Pragati Pandey suits her character well, but isn’t really spectacular. Debutante Ranjan Chhabra as the good-for-nothing younger brother is lukewarm to say the least. There are moments where the actor makes an impression, but they are few and far between. The shrewd loan inspector finds a decent performer in Zakir Hussain; the man suits his role well.
On the whole, the film lacks vision, and terribly so. How else can one explain the fact that the most basic foundation that the film is premised on is a glaringly flawed one! Stacking up rations for three years in a house, that too in a place like Sonepat, Haryana, where inclemency of the weather is an everyday tale, comes across as too farfetched. Come on, things do get spoilt, don’t they? Or are we speaking of a place like Antarctica where subzero temperatures can leave food intact for that long a time? Also, speaking of things like shampoo and toothpaste and hair-oil, the last time I remember looking at any of them, there was an ‘expiry date’ mentioned somewhere on the packages! Clearly, in director Anshul Sharma’s utopian Sonepat, such logic doesn’t exist.
In all, ‘Saare Jahaan Se Mehnga’ leaves you with the question, ‘Why?’... Why, for example, did the makers decide to make such a film when we are so troubled by inflation already? Or why, even if they did decide to do so, didn’t they pay the minutest of attentions to something like logic? And also, why would a person go and watch this film? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind!
One and a half star from me for this extraordinary waste of time and energy. Those are two hours of my life I’m never getting back.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)