June 27, 2020
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Halla Bol

So breathless with righteousness that it ends up not speaking to the audience at all.

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Halla Bol
Halla Bol
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Pankaj Kapur, Vidya Balan, Darshan Jariwala
Directed by Rajkumar Santoshi
Rating: *

Bollywood rarely gives encouragement to social causes—hundreds of chronic injustices are ignored by India’s most powerful medium and its most emulated public figures. So Rajkumar Santoshi, in Halla Bol, has decided to take cognisance of all of them in one go, while also taking a look at his industry’s conspiracy of cheerful silence. But the road to movie hell is paved with good politics. Halla Bol is so breathless with righteousness that it ends up not speaking to the audience at all. Ashfaque Khan (Ajay Devgan) is an idealistic actor in a street-play troupe led by Sidhu (Pankaj Kapur). Sidhu despatches him to Mumbai, where naturally he becomes Bollywood’s brightest star. He changes his name to Sameer Khan (which sounds an awful lot like Aamir Khan). Sameer’s success saps his idealism, until one night he becomes witness to a murder in a club, initiating an exact replay of the Jessica Lall scenario. Sameer wrestles with his conscience, testifies in court and faces the all-too-grim consequences.

The central question of Halla Bol is why real celebrities (Ajay Devgan, for example) never stick their necks out, or as Sidhu puts it, why they open their mouths as wide as they can to endorse a product, but don’t move their lips for a social issue. It’s a good question and the film asks it well.

The film also asks why, more generally, none of the rest of us do either. This is its downfall. Once Sameer’s luck fails, he gets dragged over every social issue, from communal politics to the casting couch. It is like being spoon-fed a cold, bland porridge of boiled newspaper. After dwelling pointlessly on the Bollywood phase, the script rushes through this politically correct wilderness, getting lost over and over. Music and dialogue fall flat. There are some powerful moments, like the climactic scene when Sameer returns to the street-play format in a final bid for justice: gasping for coherence and poignancy, the movie turns back to Safdar Hashmi’s story. It uses his horrific end for a cinematic boost, then resumes its haphazard effort to convince the audience to rise up. They did, and left.

High Fives


1. Taare Zameen Par
2. Welcome
3. Jab We Met
4. Om Shanti Om
5. Aaja Nachle


1. Juno
2. I Am Legend
3. Sweeney Todd
4. National Treasure
5. Charlie Wilson’s War


1. Long Road Out of Eden (Eagles)
2. Coco (Colbie Caillat)
3. Mothership (Led Zeppelin)
4. Raising Sand (Plant/Krauss)
5. RIOT! (Paramore)

Courtesy: Film Information

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