WBRi Movie Review – Gali Gali Chor Hai (2012): Akshaye Khanna Stands Out in Dreary, Low-Key Film

Gali Gali Chor Haye (Hindi, 2012) Theatrical Trailer

Calcutta, Feb 4, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Relatively small films, with pertinent and gripping story-lines, have always found favor among the discerning moviegoers. Last year, films like ‘Shor In The City’ and ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’, while not big money-spinners in themselves, had managed to garner considerable critical acclaim. Of course, it is almost always imperative for such movies to have a talented director at the helm – who would be able to do proper justice to the main storyline of the movie. Rumi Jaffery, who had so far managed to give us such duds like ‘God Tussi Great Ho’ and ‘Life Partner’, returns with his third directorial venture, ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’. The promotions of the movie were low-key (not surprising, with the ‘Agneepath’ juggernaut arriving only a week before!) and, rather surprisingly for an Akshaye Khanna-starrer, expectations were not that high from ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’. Does the third time prove to be lucky for director Rumi Jaffery? Not quite, for the movie is a distinctly average fare!

‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’ is a satirical take on the corrupt practices and red tapism that have become ingrained in the entire political and legal system of the country. In the movie, we meet ‘Bharat’ (Akshaye Khanna), a common person from Bhopal. He lives with his father ‘Shivnarayan’ (Satish Kaushik) and wife ‘Nisha’ (Shriya Saran). ‘Bharat’ and ‘Nisha’ are happy with their respective professional lives (he is a bank cashier, while she works as a schoolteacher). ‘Bharat’s father, ‘Shivnarayan’, is an idealistic man, who dreams of a corruption-free India (the dream, however, looks like a distant one!). ‘Nisha’ loves her husband and wishes that the latter would soon be promoted to the post of manager in his bank. Oh, this tightly-knit family has another member too – ‘Bharat’s much-loved and trusted scooter!

While ‘Bharat’ is content with his job, he has another passion too – the passion to act. He regularly plays the role of ‘Hanuman’ in the ‘Ramleela’ skit that is organized in his locality. However, ‘Bharat’ aspires to play the lead role of ‘Ram’ in the play. Such dreams, however, seem futile, with the role of ‘Ram’ being usurped by ‘Sattu Tripathi’ (who gets to play the role only because he is the younger brother of a local MLA and not because of his acting prowess!). With no apparent way to essay his favourite character in the skit and no promotions seeming to be on the offing at his office either, frustrations seem to start creeping within ‘Bharat’ (understandably, for a man can take only so much!).

In a chance encounter, ‘Bharat’ meets ‘Amita’ (Mugdha Godse), a rather forgetful call-center employee, who frequently asks for a lift on the former’s scooter on her way to office. The arrival of this rather pretty ‘other woman’ makes ‘Nisha’ somewhat insecure. The enmity between ‘Bharat’ and ‘Sattu Tripathi’ also goes up by several notches when ‘Shivnarayan’ decides to rent a room in his house to ‘Mohanlal’, who is a political adversary of ‘Sattu’s brother, the reigning MLA. Things come to a head when a table-fan goes missing from ‘Bharat’s household and he comes to know (from a local shop-owner, ‘Bachhu Gulkand’) that the (in)famous burglar, ‘Chunnu Farishta’, had committed this act of theft. Determined to get his table-fan back, ‘Bharat’ decides to move to court. Here, for the first time, he comes face-to-face with the harsh realities of corruption in the polity. In order to get a simple table-fan back, ‘Bharat’ is forced to bribe a number of so-called ‘law-keepers’ (the criminals also had to be paid their share!). This harassment, coupled with ‘Bharat’s own frustrations, causes him to snap and he decides to stand up against the system. The rest of the movie relates how ‘Bharat’, an extremely average man, tries to cleanse the society of corruption and make his father’s idealistic dreams a reality.

While the basic premise of ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’ is promising (and relevant!) enough, the film is held back by inconsistent performances, a convoluted narrative and patchy screenplay. Not surprisingly, Akshaye Khanna is the pick of the actors on view in the movie. His portrayal of a common family man from a humble background, whose petty dreams are repeatedly thwarted by the influence of a corrupt politician, is entirely believable. Khanna is easily one of the finest actors in B-town as of now and he manages to showcase the transformation of ‘Bharat’ from a simpleton to an angst-ridden and frustrated man who wishes to take on the corrupt elements in the society single-handedly, in a truly remarkable manner. In a rather mundane script, Khanna’s acting prowess easily shines through.

Most good things about ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’, however, start and end with Akshaye Khanna’s sincere performance. Shriya Saran, as ‘Nisha’, looks bored. The actress, who is quite a sensation down south, has failed to deliver credible performances in any of her Bollywood ventures (while the actress had an extremely small role in the critically acclaimed ‘Awaarapan’, ‘Mission Istanbul’ was plain unwatchable!). To be fair to the actress, she does not get much of a scope to perform in this film either. Mugdha Godse, as ‘Amita’, looks pretty and, well, does little else (!). Godse needs to brush up her emoting skills and her style of dialog delivery (and quickly too, if she wishes to make a mark in the Hindi film industry). The fact that Godse’s character is half-baked (much like practically everyone else’s!) in the movie does not help her cause either.

The rest of the cast of ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’ are adequate, to say the most. Akhilendra Mishra and Annu Kapoor manage to do some justice to their roles. Satish Kaushik, rather unsurprisingly, hams. Vijay Raaz sleepwalks through his role. Veena Malik, in a shoddy item number, shows exactly why she is not yet ready to don the ‘Munni’ or the ‘Sheila’ avatar. Pity really, for item numbers have become, over the last couple of years or so, one of the main highlights of several big blockbusters.

It is an absolute must for any social satire to have a crisp narrative and smart screenplay. ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’ falls short on this count too. The first half of the film, in particular, is too slow (bordering on being boring!), as the viewers are acquainted with the (numerous!) characters of the movie. While the pace of the movie does somewhat pick up after the interval, the movie never quite manages to shed the distinct air of mediocrity that shrouds the entire film. The movie has too many characters and, with the exception of ‘Bharat’, almost none of them are provided with a sound back-story. The absence of proper character development makes sure that the film falls flat in its attempt to establish an emotional connect with its viewers.

The musical score of the movie is nothing to write home about, either. Anu Malik, once a hit machine, fails to come up with even a single hummable track. Even the item number, ‘Chhanno’, seems to lack that extra bit of pep and catchiness that are so necessary for songs of this genre. The lacklustre lyrics (penned by Rahat Indori and Swanand Kirkire) do not help matters either. Cinematography, by Gururaj RJ) is decent enough. The dialogs of the film are smart and witty in most parts as well. That, however, is hardly enough to keep the entire movie afloat!

On the whole, ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’ is a fair attempt to portray the corruption-filled state of the present-day society and how the common man is made to suffer due to the absence of proper discipline in the legal and political system of the country. However, the film often tends to get too preachy (never a good idea in a satirical flick!). The patchy screenplay, under-par performances (with the notable exception of Akshaye Khanna), the loophole-filled narrative and the forgettable musical score makes sure that ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’ is a rather disappointing movie-going experience for viewers.

The title ‘Gali Gali Chor Hai’ is absolutely apt for a movie that tries to bring the shortcomings of the modern Indian society to the fore. Unfortunately, the actual film is way, way off the mark!

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