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Lagi Toh Chhagi review: Irritating, overambitious saga

Release Date: 08 Jun 2018 / Rated: U/A / 01hr 55min

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

Shivadarshan Sable's directorial debut suffers from several negatives, with the lack of a story and a terrible background score leading the list.

First-time director Shivadarshan Sable throws in a lot of ingredients — action, songs, mistaken identities, betting, one-liners, an extramarital affair, 'item numbers', shootouts, and a dose of cricket — in the mistaken notion that all this makes for an exciting film. However, in his excitement he has forgotten a basic ingredient: a cogent story.

The writers of Lagi Toh Chhagi have simply woven a tale incorporating the aforementioned masala ingredients and tried to make a script out of it. This results in a pretentious saga that is simply irritating.

Lagi Toh Chhagi is based in Mumbai, 2011. Aalaap Sahastrabuddhe (Abhijeet Satam), who stays with roommate and close friend (Ravinder Bakshi), is disappointed that he came to the city from Pune with big hopes but is forced to work as a waiter in a bar.

Aalaap is looking for that one chance that will help him make it big. There is another factor pushing him. He and his friend have taken a loan from notorious South Indian moneylender-cum-gangster Woongly.

To make a quick buck, Aalaap and his friend try their luck at betting on the 2011 cricket World Cup. Meanwhile, an anti-narcotics team led by officer Surabhi (Nikita Giridhar) is bent on catching an international drug lord. How Aalaap and his friends get enmeshed in the drug mess forms the rest of the thin plot.

While Lagi Toh Chhagi labours under the weight of a number of negatives, worst of all is the writing. The screenplay is a lesson in how messy it can get if the writers are not in control.

From the very first scene, we are presented with a large number of characters along with their specific introductions. There is no flow; the writers just seem to be intent on presenting characters and their peculiarities. They probably thought this would make the characters interesting. So, the stereotypical South Indian gangster Woongly is presented in slow motion with a loud background sound. But it just comes across as lame. We are also told he is named Woongly (Ungli with a pronounced Tamilian accent, in case you didn't know) since he lost two fingers in a childhood accident as he was busy staring at a girl. Really? Is that even funny?

Once the introductions are done, Lagi Toh Chhagi gets caught in a maze of unconvincing plot twists. In fact, there are so many of them that after a while you just cease to care where the film is heading and start wondering when you can head out. A large portion of the blame should fall on the background music, which is more like loud noises. It starts getting irritating right at the start and exhausts you by the time the film ends.

The film uses the game of cricket throughout the narrative. If you thought the commentary on Indian television is the pits, you should check this one out. Worse, they even get their facts wrong in the quarter-final match between India and Australia. The film shows that the match went right down to the wire when India had won comprehensively.

Since this is supposed to be a masala entertainer, Lagi Toh Chhagi is studded with quite a few dance numbers but none of them is impressive. There also seems to be some editing problem with the linking of a few scenes. And during many of the outdoor scenes, the print quality is not up to the mark.

The performances are average. Abhijeet Satam, son of veteran actor Shivaji Satam, is decent but does not appear natural on some occasions. Nikita Giridhar suits the character of a tough police officer but seems to have a limited range of expressions.

Ravinder Bakshi simply overacts. The actor playing Woongly is hampered by the silly characterization. Sagar Athalekar as the drug lord Johnny is believable, but the rest of the artistes are just passable. Pradnya Shastri is an excellent theatre actress, but even her cameo here fails.

It's good to be ambitious, but in Lagi Toh Chhagi the desire, unbridled, simply crosses over into pretentiousness.


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