Name of Movie: Halla Bol
What happens when you feel very guilty? What happens when conscience weighs you down? Do you ignore it and lead your life or do you allow the guilt to take over you and make you do things that you wouldn’t have ordinarily done. These are some of the thoughts that go through Sameer Khan (Ajay Devgan) during a well constructed first half in Halla Bol, as he tries to grapple between choice of right and wrong.
Director and writer Rajkumar Santoshi’s Halla Bol provides an austere look at the laid back attitude of ordinary citizens when confronted with situations that are severely appalling. Halla Bol is the story a murder that takes place in a high profile party and its subsequent cover-up despite the presence of several witnesses. The perpetrators of the murder are also from high profile families. One is the son of a politician Gaekwad (Darshan Jariwala) and the other is the son of Shiv Nagarajan (strangely modeled on the lines of Shankar Mahadevan), a liquor baron. Because of the financial and political clout that they enjoy everything seems to going right for the two perpetrators. That is until Sameer Khan, one of the key witnesses, decides that the guilty must be brought to book no matter what. He is helped immensely in the crusade by his Guruji Siddharth aka Siddu (Pankaj Kapoor). How they succeed in their crusade and what all pitfalls they face in the crusade is what the movie is all about.
Heavily inspired by the topical Jessica Lal murder case, the movie very commendably maintains the balance between rhetoric talks and entertaining sequences. Rajkumar Santoshi’s characteristic sense of humour surfaces every once in a while ensuring that the proceedings are not drab. The movie starts off in a very good note taking a really tongue-in-cheek look at the functioning of the movie industry. The characters are very finely etched especially that of Sameer Khan and Siddu. The rise of Sameer Khan as a superstar is properly shown with minimal fuss. The thoughts that go through Sameer Khan’s mind after the murder takes place is well depicted reminiscent of what Meenakshi Sheshadari’s character goes through in Damini.
Rajkumar Santoshi’s brilliance comes to the fore from time to time in the movie. Some of the sequences like Sameer’s confrontation with Gaekwad at his home could have been way over the top but Santoshi shows a remarkable restraint. Halla Bol follows a long list of Santoshi’s movies which depict the fight for delivering justice at any cost. In his earlier movies the protagonist resorts to violence (Ghayal) and court (Damini) to deliver justice, in this movie the protagonists take to street plays to highlight the injustice. The fall of the superstardom during Sameer Khan’s crusade has been effectively depicted making the audience connect very well with the character. Some of the dialogues are very effective and Santoshi manages to stay away from clichéd dialogues most of the time. In one of the scenes Sameer confronts the politician and delivers a punchline in terms of “Mere Paas Gurda Hai”. This one line is a heady cocktail of cheesiness, corniness and effectiveness. One part of you feels like laughing at the line and the other part of you wants to clap at the effectiveness of it.
Performance wise Ajay Devgan reminds us that inspite of RGV’s Aag and Cash, he is still one of the best in the business. He effectively portrays the character which has shades of grey. At times he almost becomes a negative character when he allows his Ego to take over him. He displays a gamut of emotions and does a full justice to the script. Vidya Balan in the role of Sneha his wife gets to play a very important character. But the script is in such a way that she doesn’t get much screen time. But the role of being the conscience checker of Sameer Khan and some hard hitting dialogues makes the role a small but an impact full one. Correct me if I am wrong but I think she has the distinction of being the first Hindi film heroine who gets to say “He has Balls”. Pankaj Kapoor as Siddu deserves a more than special mention in this movie. In more ways than one he is the movie’s scene stealer. His character is that of an ex-con who turns into a street play actor-cum-director-cum-garage owner-cum-truck driver-cum-part time Hattori Hanzo sword exponent (!!). You can see the fire in his eyes and the belly all the times. Some of the best dialogues are reserved for him and he delivers them with aplomb. The near monologue that he delivers in his introduction scene is not going to be forgotten by anyone for sometime. Darshan Jariwala plays the chief villain in the movie as the wily manipulative politician. He essays the character with conviction. Only his accent, which keeps on swinging from a chaste Marathi manoos to a well cultured person, seems a bit out of place.
Technically the movie is not outstanding. The events are portrayed in a stark and realistic manner. Cinematography by SN Subramanium is good. The sound recording by Rakesh Ranjan though definitely required a bit of polishing. The music by Sukhwinder Singh and Vanraj Bhatia ranges from insipid to passable. As with every Rajkumar Santoshi movie the dialogues are penned by him only and as usual they are effective.
The movie is quite good but the second half is hampered by speed breakers in the form of couple of songs that seems to have placed only to please the minority crowd. Ironically, the movie harps on the hollowness of the political establishment which targets the minority section for their vote bank. The movie tries to take potshots at too many things at the same time thereby diluting the impact. Also the mindset of the perpetrators is not touched upon at all. Nor is the victim’s family given much screen time. The director would have been able to deliver a more effective punch by devoting some reels on them. Overall a definite value for money but it had the potential of being much more than just that.