Millennium Post

Machiavelli in the bedroom

In Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur II, politician Ramadhir Singh (played by Tigmanshu Dhulia) asks his son what he has been up to. The son says he was watching a Shah Rukh Khan film. Ramadhir nods disapprovingly and tells him he will achieve nothing in life. In Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns (directed by Dhulia), watching a Shah Rukh film is again referred to condescendingly. Welcome to the bold new Bollywood. Neither arthouse trash nor popcorn puke, filmmakers like Kashyap and Dhulia are scooping up their slices of reality from the badlands of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and serving them with Tarantino-esque toppings. Rural is the new urban and small towns are now big screen staples.

The original star cast (Jimmy Shergill and Mahie Gill) returns with new additions (Soha Ali Khan and Irrfan Khan). Saheb (Shergill) is now in a wheelchair (he was shot in the waist in Part I when Gill, his bottle-drawn wife, cavorted with gangstar Randeep Hooda), but he hasn’t lost his swagger. Gill is still in search of mental peace and male attention though loyal to Saheb in her own way. Enter Indarjeet Singh ( Irrfan Khan), another Thakur, who has a score to settle with Saheb, a feud that goes back generations and has something to do with one man’s wife running away with another woman’s husband. The delicate-looking Ranjana (Soha Ali Khan) is his love interest. The one he wants to marry after he restores lost honour to his family. He draws up a plan to take power away from Saheb with Biwi as the pawn, but Saheb has some plans of his own.

That’s enough masala to keep a 145-minute, rather well written film going. And when you add bed-hopping women and gun-trotting men and sex up this amoral universe, you get a surefire hit. Dhulia has written the screenplay as well as the dialogues of the film, so expect some whistle-worthy oneliners: ‘Hamare toh gaali par bhi talli parte hai’ (Irrfan); ‘Khade ho gaye hum, ab hum aur bhi darayenge’ (Jimmy). The actors play their parts to perfection, though I thought Jimmy Shergill’s saheb overshadowed Irrfan’s gangstar.

The twist in this tale of lust and deceit comes, predictably, from the women. While the men scheme and shoot, their better halves prove to be the Real Slim Shadys. Must be Dhulia’s way of acknowledging women power. He released his film on Women’s Day after all!
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