Mumbai, 01 Jun 2019 8:00 IST
Babo, starring Kishore Kadam and Sayaji Shinde, gains your interest with the premise of the story, only to disappoint you.
First-time director Ramesh Chaudhary’s Babo is an intentionally over-the-top comic drama with a very interesting plot. Bablu (Amol Kagne) has been visiting the home of Munni (Pratiksha Mungekar) regularly to fix her computer, but he never manages to get it working.
Munni’s father Bhaskarrao Talathe (Sayaji Shinde) smells something fishy. His suspicion is confirmed when he sights Bablu and Munni hugging each other and he is infuriated.
Talathe has always been at loggerheads with Bablu’s father Madanrao (Kishore Kadam) and the incident just adds fuel to the fire. In fact, the hostility between the two grows to such an extent that there is a danger of all-out war between the two groups.
Why Talathe is against Madanrao’s family is down to that same age-old problem: they belong to a caste below Talathe's in the village's hierarchy.
Wait a minute now. Doesn’t this sound like yet another love story involving a girl from a higher caste and a guy from a lower one? Since Sairat (2016) set the cash registers ringing, we have had several such films working with a similar premise, like Yuntum (2017), Baban (2018), and Perfume (2019).
But two things distinguish Babo from the rest. The first is the genre. While the other love stories were serious, even tragic, Babo is a light-hearted film that keeps miles away from serious, forget tragic.
There are a whole lot of characters in the film and each has been defined well. The comic situations and jokes may not leave you in splits but they keep you engaged and amused nevertheless. Chaudhary does a decent job of keeping things under control despite having to handle so many characters.
The performances might appear theatrical but you don’t mind that so much because of the nature of the film. Kishore Kadam is reliable yet again and the best of the lot, except on a couple of occasions, when he overdoes it. Kagne and Mungekar are believable as young lovers from a village, though there is scope for improvement.
Sayaji Shinde fits his character well, but we have seen him play the angry middle-aged man so many times now that it doesn’t move you. The trailers gave us a sense that Bharat Ganeshpure’s character of motivational speaker Dodake Guruji would be interesting and funny. But the character is hardly explored and he never comes to the fore.
The second reason Babo stands out from the other films is its unusual story of a fiery asteroid about to wipe out the entire village. Unfortunately, this twist eventually hurts the film the most.
One would have thought the film would rise to another level of comedy, even absurdity, after such a mammoth plot twist. But, strangely, the villagers continue to behave and quarrel in much the same way. They hardly seem to care that they have just 24 hours to live.
Of course, we know this is not a serious film, but at least a hint of worry or fright? Was that too much to ask? And since the asteroid is headed only for this village, maybe someone could have decided to run away to a neighbouring village or town?
But no, a couple of songs get thrown in, simply adding to your irritation.
Despite these gaps, the viewer is eager to see how the story ends and whether the asteroid actually falls on the village. Unfortunately, this part is dealt with so coldly that you are neither amused nor thrilled. In other words, the film falters after laying a good foundation, as if the script were suddenly hit by an asteroid.
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