Naresh Kathooria

Movie Review
Vekh Barataan Chaliyaan:Punjabi tadka in Bollywood masala


Picking up masala from various Hindi films and presenting them in Punjabi cinema is not a new trend, but narrating a convincing story through that mashup is not within everyone’s area of expertise. There are not many examples of such films in Punjabi cinema, but the new film by Ksshitij Chaudhary ‘Vekh Barataan Chaliyaan (VBC)’ leaves a new mark. Cooked with a mashup of many Hindi films VBC is an entertainer as well as delivers a meaningful message.

Indolent Jaggi (Binnu Dhillon) fails to find a match irrespective of tireless efforts by his family, thus his father Karamjit Singh Waraich (Jaswinder Bhalla) is worried about his future. The family runs a local mini bus on route alongside the Punjab-Haryana border and lives a simple life. Jaggi’s cousin Chhindi (Ranjit Bawa) tries to make their life difficult, although his own life is not less than a hell. The story takes a turn when Wariach’s driver Resham (Karamjit Anmol) announces that the ticket conductor employed on their bus has run away. Consequently Wariach forces Jaggi to handle the situation until he finds a new conductor. In the beginning Jaggi remains reluctant to work as a bus conductor, but one fine day he bumps into Sarla (Kavita Kaushik) a school teacher and daily passenger from the bordering village of Haryana. Arrested in love of Haryanavi Jaatni, Jaggi starts loving his new job. Ultimately, both the families meet to fix their marriage, but Sarla’s father, who's a pugnacious Harayanvi Jaat, Zile Singh Dange (Govind Namdev) insists upon Kundli matching. Dange’s Family astrologer Pandit Ji (Mukesh Bhatt) declares that Jaggi is Maanglik and he has to marry a black bitch before marrying Sarla to get rid of his Maanglik curse. Jaggi agrees to marry the black bitch irrespective of his parent’s reluctance. How bitchy his life becomes after marrying a black bitch? Will Jaggi succeed in impressing Sarla’s orthodox father to win his love? Answers to these questions form the rest of the story.

After Carry on Jatta, and ten not so good films, finally writer Naresh Kathooria has come up with a story which is a mashup of Hindi films like Phillauri, Lagge Raho Munna Bhai and Two States. This time his story has ‘entertainment’ written all over it. It not only touches many important contemporary issues of Punjab, but is also a meaningful satire on superstitions. Ksshitij Chaudhary, who began with the period drama Heer Ranjha as a co-director, places high expectations for himself in the audience’s mind. After Mr. and Mrs. 420 (2014) with VBC, finally he fulfills those expectations. Written by Naresh Kathooria, first part of the screenplay is full of situational comedy. After a long gap there is real situational comedy, which is not forced, but actually evolves through situations and leaves you in splits. Especially, word-war between Wariach and Chhindi across the wall and Chhindi’s remedial acts for his superstitions give you some organic laughter. Though the border crossing sequence becomes repetitive and halts the pace, but as soon as Karma boards the bus in disguise of a passenger, the director catches hold of the dipping graph once again and it turns out to be the best scene of the film. Before that, in the scenes in which Jaggi is blowing whistles while asleep and his grandfather asks for mutton curry, is real fun.

In the second half, story takes a serious turn and unmasks the hypocrisy behind superstitions and emphasizes upon the warmth and belongingness of relationships. But Chhindi’s sudden change of heart seems awkward; it would have been more believable if this change would have come gradually and naturally. The director has successfully sustained the authenticity and atmosphere of the conflict between Punjabi and Haryanavi cultural from beginning till end. Fans of slapstick comedy may feel dejected at the latter part of the second half, but the seriousness of that portion is desirable and appropriate to deliver the powerful message. Most powerful part of VBC is its climax. It refutes the need of hypocritical rituals and highlights the importance of love in relationships. Thus, VBC, sets out an outstanding example of an entertaining film with a meaningful message. By embedding the contemporary issues of Punjab and Haryana into comic situations, the writing turns out to be commendable. Word play in Kahooria’s dialogue makes them stand out. Striking dialogue referring to the ground realities and concerns of Punjab, like - Jattan de puttan da panni layuna chhad ke muh te dhaagey layuna (these days a farmer’s son is more worried about plucking his facial hairs than plucking weeds from field), family connection between Badal’s and Chautala’s, the politicians of apparently two politically rival states (unfortunately, Haryana was made out of Punjab), conflict of water share between Punjab and Harayana, Division of Punjab to make Pakistan, present the irony of Punjab’s contemporary social state.

Known for his slapstick comedy acts, Binnu Dhillon, once again proves his mettle in a demanding character. Ocassionally, he seems loud in comic situations, but he handles emotional and romantic situations with ease. Popular sitcom FIR’s Chadramukhi Chautala fame Kavita Kaushik re-creates her character of a cantankerous self sustained Haryanavi woman, as a primary school teacher in the film. It was an easy take for her as she had played such characters for years on the small screen. Amrinder Gill surprises as Haryanvi Chaudhary Sube Singh. He has picked up the Haryanvi accent almost perfectly, but he still needs to polish his expressions and stiff body language. Mithila Purohit as Omwati and Anupriya Goenka as Saroj, with their impactful presence, contribute as an important supporting cast. Ranjit Bawa’s dialogue delivery is almost natural, but he is still far away from the acting. Jaswinder Bhalla once again repeats himself, but this time in a few scenes he achieves the next level by expressing through his facial expressions. Karamjit Anmol, as a rustic bus driver, fits the bill.

There is nothing special about VBC’s music, although most of the songs fit appropriately to the situations, but doesn’t leave much impact. Cinematography by Prikshit Warrior creates a realistic atmosphere needed by the story and the background score helps to keep this atmosphere intact during comic as well as serious situations. If you prefer to watch entertaining films with a message, then Vekh Barataan Chaliyaan is for you. 

   Deep Jagdeep Singh

Deep Jagdeep Singh is a freelance journalist, Screenwriter and a Lyricist. http://www.facebook.com/deepjagdeepsingh.

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