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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Phas Gaye Re Obama (2010): screwball satire!

Movies like this make me seriously question the name of this blog! True, older films had so much going for them, but some of the new Hindi comedies make me wonder whether newer ones aren’t even better. This one is almost as good as my other new favourite Tere Bin Laden. It has all the hall marks of a well made screwball comedy but it is also a brilliant satire. From global recession to American business ethics, and Indian politics and it’s murky back waters – Subhash Kapoor spares no one!

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The global recession has hit millionaire Om Shastri (Rajat Kapoor) very hard. He’s lost his business and all his millions, and now the bank demands he pay up the mortgage on his house or vacate it. At his wit’s end, Om decides to do something he’d never thought he would – sell his ancestral mansion in India. He has barely a month left to find $100,000 and hopes to raise more than that from the sale of his old haveli. But Om hasn’t bargained on recession hitting the Indian markets and it’s repercussions.

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While Om is optimistically traveling to India, hoping to save his home, we see how badly recession has affected India. As the film progresses, the plight of India’s recession-hit gangsters will certainly move you. And we see a LOT of these recession-hit gangsters.

Bhai Saheb (Sanjay Mishra) is a small time gangster who once had a flourishing business in kidnappings, but the recession has put paid to it. Now he has to make ransom calls from a public phone, because he cannot afford to use his cell. When he demands a ransom of Rs. 2,50,000, he is given a counter-offer of Rs. 10,000. Poor Bhai Saheb! All he can do is fondly reminisce about the good 'ol times when even his cooks and drivers were wanted for half a dozen murders each. Now he cannot even afford bullets for his pistols! I’m sure we’ll all sympathise with his heartfelt wish that Obama would do something to keep his recession within his own borders.Phas Gaye Re Obama 3

Anni (Manu Rishi) is a good gangster and full of innovative ideas. He dreams of going to America one day, and regularly attends his English coaching classes. He’s made friends with Kanhaiya, Om’s nephew, in the hope of finding a sponsor for his American Dream. In the meantime, he has to earn his living. So he kidnaps for Bhai Saheb, and even volunteers to do his first murder to keep the gang’s reputation alive. So what if the murder does not pan out as planned? He gave it his best shot! It’s the recession – everything just backfires…

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Ali may not look like it, but he is a dreaded gangster. He may look like one of India’s newest crop of couturiers with his designer locks and daku-couture, but the moment he walks on to the scene, you know that here is someone you must fear. It’s his reputation you know. Bhai Saheb has been in this "business" for years, but Ali is still his 'senior' in spite of his youth. This guy must be the Albert Einstein of dacoity!

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Ali may be a daku-genius, but a woman trumps him in the daku-stakes - Munni aka Lady Gabbar (Neha Dhupia). Finally, a daku after my own heart! She is an honest dasyu sundari (dacoit beauty) and takes no nonsense from any male. She heads a ferocious gang of female dakus and is actually a "senior" of Ali’s. So what if she cuts up male statues to fashion female ones? A Dasyu Sundari must have her hobbies. She cannot always be threatening her male prisoners with gang rape!

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Minister Dhananjay Singh (Amol Gupte) is a living example of how a true democracy does not let discrimination flourish. He may be a "successful businessman" and a "senior" colleague of Bhai Saheb and Munni’s, but that does not mean that he cannot be a much respected government minister! No no… a good democracy welcomes private enterprise and shows it’s appreciation for good entrepreneurship by moving the entire state machinery to help his err… enterprise.

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And all these amazingly enterprising entrepreneurs see Om Shastri as a golden opportunity. He is to be kidnapped and ransomed for a fortune, only, as it turns out, its not his fortune at stake. You see, Om has not wasted his time in America’s corporate jungle. They do not know it yet, but there is a reason why he is well-respected businessman in America – he is their "senior" in the business!

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What more can I say about this film? The story, the dialogues, the performances, the music – it all comes together in a mixture of screwball, quirky and plain hilarious in a way that is not seen all that often in comedies. So what are you waiting for? Go watch it!


  1. I want to see this!!! Where did you find it? Is the DVD out?

  2. I am always a little wary of watching new films... I'd read a good review of this one, but never got around to seeing it. Your review sounds awesome, though! I'm off to see if my DVD rental people have it! :-)

  3. Nice to read something about new films from you too! Sounds really good.

  4. Filmi Girl, my Indian store had it, so I guess the DVD is out. You may be able to buy it online, if your video store hasn't got it yet.

    dustedoff, I'm a bit wary of new films too, mostly because there are no favorite actors I'd watch films for. The good thing is that a favorite actor or a good song cannot lead me astray, either! This one you definitely should try. If you liked Tee Bin Laden, you'll like this.

    Lime(tte), newer movies are sometimes easier to watch because they are shorter, and have prints that do not make tired eyes hurt any more! :D

  5. I haven't seen Tere Bin Laden either, but my DVD rental company has this one! I've put it on my wishlist - if it's available this week, I'll order it. :-)

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  7. Yay you're back! Neha Dhupia is both very attractive and has a masculinity about her. She looks good as a daku. Like you, I'm also curious about the new stuff. Imran is gorgeous--I'd watch a movie with him just for the drool value.

  8. 'Yes I can' - just finished watching the movie :). Hilarious! But if I had to chose between 'Tere bin Laden' and this one, the first would definitely win. Here the comedy is somewhat OTT. But definitely much, much better than the usual Bollywood comedy fare.

  9. I was actually waiting, now, I'll go watch it. :)

  10. dustedoff, can't wait to hear what you think of it. And while you're about it, do try Tere Bin Laden too - it's even more fun than this!

    theBollywoodFan, apart from the fun aspects of the film, it was great to see Rajat Kapoor playing a nice character for once. I've mostly seen him playing unpleasant and/or unsavoury characters before!

    I haven't seen Bheja Fry though it has been on my list forever. Maybe 2011 will give me more time for films, though the last few weeks haven't been very promising. Hope your recent posts indicate more time for films and blogging this year.

    sophy, Neha Dhupia is really good when she's allowed to get away from her "sultry siren" image. Have you seen I Hate Luv Stories for Imraan's drool value yet? ;D

    Ruchi, we should all take inspiration from "yes we can"! This may not be another Tere Bin Laden, but it's so much fun that I'd say it almost gets there.

    Banno, do watch it! It's a great way to spend an evening.