Starring: Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor, Anand Tiwari, Sita Spada
Directed by Praveen Kumar
Jo Dooba So Paar: It’s love in Bihar! is the kind of film that makes you wish the filmmaker had thought twice before making it. At a time when there are plenty of films that are getting the local milieu just right—of the recent ones, Phas Gaye Re Obama, Band Baaja Baaraat, even Sahib, Biwi aur Gangster to an extent—JDSP gets it all wrong. Sure, there is the outdated steel-grey transistor perched in a corner, a khatia thrown into the frame, lots of kitschy clothes to make the point that the film is set in Bihari heartland, but does it capture the subtle nuances of a subculture? Not a chance.
So what might have been an endearing tale about a good-hearted Bihari boy Keshu (played by Anand Tiwari) turns into an irritating mess. Keshu gets expelled from school and even as his truckdriver father tries to drive some sense into him, he goes and falls for American-desi girl Sapna (Sita Spada) who’s visiting to research Madhubani art. He pines for her, she thwarts his advances; he stalks her, she quickly relents, grabs his hand and asks him to guide her around town. Over musings about Madhubani paintings, the two bond, but Keshu’s hopes turn sour when Sapna’s American boyfriend lands up on the scene. And then, just as suddenly as the boyfriend appears, Sapna disappears, kidnapped by goons. And it is all up to Keshu to save his beloved, even though she does not love him back.
Debutant director Praveen Kumar tries hard to give JDSP a quirky Bihari twist, but instead ends up with a film that looks entirely like an amateur school play. The screenplay is flat, and for a film that is pitched as a ‘dark comedy’, it can’t muster a single laugh. What may have been an interesting project on paper comes across as fake and lifeless on screen. In the lead, Tiwari’s affected Bihari accent comes and goes at will. And the peripheral characters—Rajat Kapoor as an upwardly mobile cop, Vinay Pathak as a drunkard constable and Pitobash as Keshu’s best friend, dependable actors all— are utterly random, saddled with lame lines and underdeveloped roles. It is almost as if the filmmaker wanted to cash in on ‘exotic’ Bihar, which is such a trend these days, but just could not strike the right note.
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