Renowned Marathi helmer Ravi Jadhav (TIME PASS, NATRANG, BALAK PALAK) Hindi debut BANJO is a baffling musical that keeps on deciding what kind of movie it wants to be.
Ending up in just a hint on the potentials of Jadhav as a director and Riteish Deshmukh as an actor, BANJO losses the opportunity to tell a riveting story about the players of this magical music instrument that gets played in the shanty allies, streets of Mumbai and never fails to make a 'Mumbaikar' stand up and dance.
Ravi Jadhav's eagerness to do everything in one film steals the thunder from what could have been Bollywood's first 'desi
' rock musical.
Still in no way a blunder, BANJO has its peculiar charms and can capitalize on Rietish Deshmukh's popularity in certain parts of Maharashtra but beyond that it will have to search for its tune.
Writers Ravi Jadhav, Nikhil Mehrotra and Kapil Sawant begin on a right note, Mikey (Luke Kenny) - a 'firang' (foreign) musician is searching for a unique sound for his DJ friend Kris (Nargis Fakhri) for a music competition in New York.
Mumbai is buzzing with the sounds of local banjo bands (Banjo party) as the 10 day Ganapati festival is on. Mickey manages to hit the bull's eye and records Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) and his band - Grease (Dharmesh Yelande), Paper (Aditya Kumar) and Vajaya (Ram Menon) in full sway.
On hearing the clip Kris goes crazy and she decides to record two singles with the band and arrives in Mumbai. Kris undertakes an assignment on research of Mumbai's slums hoping that she finds Tarrat's Banjo party. Kris has been told by Mickey that Banjo players are part timers and are found mostly in slums. So far so good.
We are introduced to Tarrat's band members and it has its acceptable quirkiness. Grease (Dharmesh Yelande) - nothing to do with the John Travolta's 38 year old dance classic by the same name no matter the character played by Dharmesh ( a popular dance reality show artiste) is a drummer and he hates being black and a member of a banjo party. Grease dreams of everything in white.
Paper (Aditya Kumar) distributes news papers and most of the time is busy filling water for his house. Paper just wants to have his own water tanker. Vajaya (Ram Menon) is a sad member of a band that plays in wedding who finds his piece of happiness when he plays for Tarrat's band. Vajaya ambition is to travel one day in a plane and keep the air hostess busy.
Finally we are introduced to Tarrat (meaning tipsy) and we wonder was it so necessary to have such an introduction for Riteish Deshmukh (the LAI BHARI effect/hangover) whatever. Why our writers have to scum to the so called cliche fancies of a 'star' aura and design their character inclining more towards the popular image and not the script is a mystery.
Tarrat is an extortion agent for a local politician and can bash people like our action heroes. If Jadhav and co. had done this to give the film the 'massy' tone which they surprisingly found missing till now then sorry, it wasn't required over here.
A tipsy Tarrat with that bit of Bob Marley type inspired locks would have been enough. 'Get up stand up' (oh no.. why this Bob Marley song is flashing my mind). Khair (anyways) lets go further. Kira meets Tarrat and Tarrat meets Kira after a prolonged series of sequences, Kira finally comes to know about the talents of Tarrat and gets the sound and the band she was waiting for.
Rest is how the band makes its mark but while doing so travels the unnecessary road to crime and mafia and gets baffled.
However, Jadhav in some parts strikingly maintains the spirit of this city and shoots the film with honesty. Jadhav had the potential in the idea of BANJO and for a short while does takes the movie to those shanty allies from where it is suppose to be. Bappa song in the beginning, 'Rada
' and the final song are finely shot. The camaraderie between Tarrat and his band members is a highlight. The character of rival Banjo player Mahesh Shetty brings interesting shades and layers to the film.
On the performance front, Dharmesh, Aditya and Ram Menon are fantastic and provide the required entertainment. Mahesh Shetty as the rival banjo player is wonderful. Luke Kenny is fine.
Coming to the main lead, Riteish Deshmukh is underutilized, sadly the script didn't had the nourishment to feed on Riteish's acting talents. He is fabulous in whatever character is sketched for him by the writer and director but considering the talent he posses BANJO just turns out to be concentrating more on how to be a crowd pleaser.
Nargis Fakhri is a stunner as far as looks are concerned. Talking about her acting, well the damsel still needs to travel.
The love angle between Riteish and Nargis is ironically 'udan chu' (vanishing).
For a musical like BANJO, the music needs to have one extraordinary number. Sadly Vishal - Shekhar's music looks good and peppy while we are watching the film (The Ganapati numbers and Rada especially) but they lack the take home quality.
Unfortunately, one of the main reason for watching BANJO (after Riteish Deshmukh) is Ravi Jadhav and he turns out to be the elephant in the room. He seems to be not in his perfect sync to make that zing we loved in NATRANG, BALAK PALAK.
BANJO at the most and in all generosity is a TIME PASS only if you love Riteish Deshmukh more than anything else.