Verdict: A paisa-wasool musical with a desi tadka.
It has been a long time since a dream sequence was shot anywhere other than the snowy mountains of Switzerland, roads of Las Vegas or the Black Beach where you could see a deserted plane. But this film is going to refresh your memories with locations that you can connect to – South Bombay and Dharavi. Directed by National Award winner Ravi Jadhav, Banjo is the story of Nand Kishore a.k.a Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) who is a part-time extortionist for the local corporator and a part-time banjo player, and Cris (Nargis Fakhri) who is a musician in New York looking for a band to record two singles for a music competition.
Cris, after listening to a music piece sent by her friend Mikey (Luke Kenny) from Mumbai, decides to record her song with the same musicians and comes to India to find them. She meets Taraat and his band of 4 members – Grease (Dharmesh Yelande), Paper (Aditya Kumar), himself and Vaaja (Leslie) – in Dharavi and asks them to make her a part of the band.
Banjo Bands are little-known in the music circuit and there are very few names credited for playing the instrument. Replacing the lead guitar in a band with a banjo is a very interesting twist and a fresh take for a musical drama. The story, in spite of being pretty predictable, is engaging and entertaining with characters that will show you the realities of life and simultaneously make you laugh. The first half builds up the plot and the second half executes it well. The only thing that one might not like about the plot is that when you expect it to be entirely focused on the instrument, music and the band, it goes a little haywire into conspiracies and politics, especially in the second half. But the flow of the movie, along with the songs and music, will make you ignore the cliches and look forward to what's next.
The visuals in the film are very colorful and alive. In pursuit of showing the real Mumbai, the film is almost entirely shot in Mumbai with most of the scenes shot in slum areas and South Mumbai. You will keep tapping your feet throughout the movie because of the songs and background score. Vishal-Shekhar have done a commendable job with the music. If you're a visarjan enthusiast, be warned that you'll get up from your seats and dance at least once during the 138 minutes of the movie. There are numbers that are going to be the next Ganpati festival's favorite.
Riteish Deshmukh has taken up a character which does not fall into his comfort zone and that is the best thing about this film. His rugged looks and locks make him look like a banjo god on screen. You would not want to take your eyes off the screen while he performs. It can easily be said that he has carried the movie on his shoulders with his performance. Nargis Fakhri looks as gorgeous as ever. However, she lacks the body language of a DJ, and her acting skills make you wonder about other options who could have fit the role better. Dharmesh Yelande has done a fair job and although you will not see him dance, his presence in the film will make you think of the film as a musical version of the film ABCD. Aditya Kumar, who is known for his character Perpendicular from GOW2, also makes you laugh sometimes.
To sum it all up, Banjo is a feel-good film with great music and performances. Riteish Deshmukh is more than paisa-wasool.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Watch it because the film industry gives you two kinds of films – a good film and a must-watch entertaining musical. This is your chance to experience the latter. Also, watch the movie to get the reference!