Fine actors can make poor films just a little bit easier to endure. Nowhere is that more evident than in a film like Bajatey Raho. This comedy, directed by Challo Dilli’s Shashant Shah has a harebrained plot with so many holes, you could shoot footballs through them. But the film’s brisk pace and its terrific ensemble cast are exactly the ointment required to help with the pain.
Mummyji (Vicky Donor’s Dolly Ahluwalia) assembles a team of allies to avenge the death of her bank manager husband who was wrongly framed in a fraud masterminded by his corrupt boss Sabharwal (Ravi Kissen). Her son Sukhi (Tusshar Kapoor), his friend Ballu (Ranvir Shorey), Sukhi’s girlfriend Manpreet (Vishakha Singh), and a close family friend Mintoo (Vinay Pathak) assist her in coming up with a series of scenarios to rob Sabharwal, so they can repay the very people he swindled using her husband. They resort to everything from sting operations and false raids, to romantic enticements and elaborate cons in their grand plan to serve comeuppance to their offender.
It’s not a wildly inventive premise, and the cons are pulled off a little too conveniently. The climax too is a melodramatic mess that could set off a migraine. And yet it’s hard not to root for the gang when you have such endearing characters. Tusshar Kapoor’s Sukhi is an earnest cable guy who ironically hangs on to his fair business principles even as he’s involved in this revenge plan. Sukhi is assisted by a smart kid nicknamed Kabootar (Hussan Saad), who helps the gang with all their tech requirements. But no one deserves more praise than Brijendra Kala who nails it as Sabharwal’s trusted assistant Bagga, always ready with an SMS joke, bringing both laughs and a lump in your throat with his pitch-perfect performance.
Ranvir Shorey and Vinay Pathak get lesser screen time to do their shtick, yet neither disappoints in limited scenes. It’s Dolly Ahluwalia, however, who steals the film as the feisty Punjabi matriarch, determined to deliver payback. Long after the film loses steam, she remains the best thing on screen.
Bajatey Raho isn’t particularly clever; in fact it reeks of lazy writing. But given the poor standard of recent Bollywood comedies, it’s far from unwatchable. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five. Alas, it could’ve been so much better.