Madhur Bhandarkar's body of work boasts of two prominent films - CHANDNI BAR and PAGE 3. CHANDNI BAR was the first film that made the viewer peep into the lives of bar girls, while PAGE 3 exposed the shallow lives of the glam brigade. Director Yunus Sajawal combines CHANDNI BAR and PAGE 3 in BENNY AND BABLOO. The film looks at the lives of bar girls and concurrently, talks of the dual standards of the elite, who often masquerade as moral guardians of the society.
The question is, since we've seen it all in the past, does Sajawal go beyond CHANDNI BAR and PAGE 3? BENNY AND BABLOO tells the story from a bell boy [Kay Kay] and waiter's [Rajpal Yadav] point of view and though the story isn't innovative, it has its share of absorbing moments. Also, it tells you in very clear words that bar girls shouldn't be ostracized because of their profession. They've a responsibility to fulfill and a family to support. It also states, very coherently again, that the glam brigade is a sham. They've far more skeletons to hide in their closet.
Final word? BENNY AND BABLOO may not be path breaking or innovative as such, but it keeps you hooked in most parts, especially the finale.
The story is about two good-hearted samaritans Benny [Kay Kay Menon] and Babloo [Rajpal Yadav], who, like the any other Indian, are smitten by the glamour of Mumbai. After a brief stint as waiters in a typical Mumbai-style Irani restaurant, the two land up in distinctly different jobs. Benny takes up the job of a bell-boy in a suburban five-star hotel, whereas Babloo lands up as a waiter in a ladies bar.
Benny considers his job to be far superior to Babloo's and ends up making fun of him more often that not. Both gradually realize that they were actually in similar professions with two different exteriors, but the same interiors. Benny witnesses innumerable social evils at the five-star hotel, right from drug abuse to political fiascos, while Babloo meets the more human side of the otherwise condemned part of the society.
Yunus Sajawal is best known for scripting comic entertainers and in BENNY AND BABLOO, there's an undercurrent of humour in most parts. But he could've conveyed what he intends conveying in a concise format. Too many characters, too many sub-plots and the culmination to each story/character only add to the length of the film.
As a first-time director, Sajawal is in comfort zone handling the light moments well, but the impact of some dramatic sequences isn't as strong. One of the reasons, perhaps, could be because the writing banks heavily on been-there-seen-that kind of situations. Yet, it must be said that the film doesn't seem like it has been helmed by a first-timer, since a number of sequences are very well handled. Music is dull. Cinematography is alright. Dialogues [Farhad-Sajid] are wonderful.
Kay Kay does well, as always. Rajpal Yadav is natural to the core. Rukhsar is efficient. Abigail Jain [the girl in need of payment for her father's illness], Anangsha Biswas [plays Sony] and Richa Chadha [as Fedora] stand out with confident portrayals. Kiran Janjani is fair. Anita Hassanandani is good. Riya Sen leaves a mark. Anant Jog enacts his part convincingly. Kishori Shahane Vij is effective. Shweta Tiwari doesn't get much scope. Hiten Paintal is confident. Aasif Sheikh is adequate. Hussain is excellent.
On the whole, BENNY AND BABLOO is a decent effort, but what goes against it is the fact that it has been released alongside hi-profile movies.