Review Hindi

Mere Desh Ki Dharti review: Amateurish comedy drama that is saved by the lead actors' performances

Release Date: 06 May 2022 / Rated: U/A / 02hr 24min


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Suyog Zore

This clichéd and sometimes unintentionally funny film, which tackles the agrarian crisis, goes downhill in the second half.

Suicides by debt-ridden farmers and rising unemployment are two major problems confronting India. Filmmaker Faraz Haider tries to address these in Mere Desh Ki Dharti with an ample shot of humour. But, as we all know, good intentions do not a good film make.

The social dramedy revolves around two young engineers Ajay (Divyenndu Sharma) and Sameer (Anant Vidhaat) who are best friends and plagued by misfortune. Ajay, who earns a basic salary working for a multinational corporation, wants to launch his start-up and needs Rs20 lakh for this purpose. Sameer toils day and night to get a promotion so he can ask for his rich girlfriend’s hand.

After multiple failed attempts to get the capital, Ajay's dream comes crashing down and he ends up losing his job in the bargain. Despite his hard work, Sameer is passed up for the promotion. Dejected and angry, they decide to end their lives on a railway track. However, they end up in the village of Salamatpur in Madhya Pradesh and the locals give the duo a completely different perspective on life and death.

The friends meet the clichéd peasants with a heart of gold who are ready to feed a stranger even if it means they have to go to sleep hungry, a wacko musician Pappan Khan (Inaamulhaq) who lives with his senile grandmother, and a money-minded and corrupt shopkeeper Dubey (Brijendra Kala).

From the outside, the villagers look like happy-go-lucky people who live in the present and are not worried about the future. But behind this facade, there is darkness. Every few days, a farmer dies by suicide due to his inability to repay loans mostly taken from private landlords and banks. Moved, Ajay and Sameer decide to use their knowledge of engineering to make a difference. There is also a young woman Jhumki (Anupriya Goenka) who decides to help the two.

Haider has divided this film into two portions. The first half deals with the personal and professional issues of the young men. Both are hardworking guys, but while trying to achieve their goals, they always end up in a bigger mess. Although the first half is unnecessarily stretched by 10 minutes, it still manages to hold the viewer's attention. The primary reason is that the filmmaker shows the plight of these young men in a realistic manner. There are funny scenes, but they never overshadow the seriousness of their issues.

There are occasional hiccups such as their encounter with a  loan shark, but the first half does make you root for these guys, which is the most important thing. Ajay and Sameer's struggles make you feel for them and wish for them to succeed.

But as we move into the second half, Mere Desh Ki Dharti goes downhill. The main issue is the filmmaker's refusal to delve deeper into the serious issue of the agrarian crisis. The movie wants to tug at the audience’s heartstrings, but it fails because hardly any effort has been put into addressing the social, economic and political aspects of the crisis. Instead, it offers an overly simplistic solution, which makes you wonder if the filmmaker has done his homework.

The introduction of new characters when the two leads move to the village also adds nothing to the plot. Goenka, who plays the heroine and the opportunistic pesticide shopkeeper's daughter, as well as Inaamulhaq are wasted in their roles. Kala appears in two or three scenes and is quite decent.

The filmmaker's decision to opt for a voiceover also does not work because it is used inconsistently and adds no insights. The writer-director has tried to infuse comedy wherever possible, but most of the time the jokes fall flat. But there are a few unintentionally funny scenes such as when the duo comes up with the idea of creating a drone and pesticide sprinkler from scrap.

Haider's direction is fine, but it's his weak screenplay and undercooked supporting characters that ruin what could have been an engaging social drama. The banal and amateurish attempt is saved only by the decent performances by the leads. Both Divyenndu and Vidhaat shine.

What helps is that while their characters are best friends, they are like chalk and cheese. Divyenndu's Ajay is a chilled guy who also has a short fuse and is quite impulsive, whereas Vidhaat's Sameer is a serious guy and kind of pessimistic. Both actors are quite good in their respective roles. Their chemistry and comic timing make even some boring scenes watchable.

Mere Desh Ki Dharti was released in cinemas on 6 May.

 

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