Hollywood has done it. Now Bollywood follows suit. Small screen to big screen adaptations are gradually becoming a norm. CHALA MUSSADDI OFFICE OFFICE isn't the first instance. KHICHDI: THE MOVIE, inspired by a popular TV serial of the same name, had released a year ago.
A film like CHALA MUSSADDI OFFICE OFFICE arrives at the right time, when dishonesty and bribery are the hot topics of discussion and deliberations. For, the film deals with this burning issue and how the common man bears the brunt of it all. In fact, one of the reasons why OFFICE OFFICE, the tele-serial, became hugely popular with audiences was because people could connect with the character of Mussaddi, a man bogged down by the corrupt system. Mussaddi's tryst with the corrupt babus is now adapted on the big screen with ordinary results.
CHALA MUSSADDI OFFICE OFFICE mirrors the current state of affairs in India. It's a statement on the work culture in government offices, besides focusing on the plight of the common man to get his work done and make ends meet. Besides the popular character of Mussaddi, director Rajiv Mehra has retained the cast of the tele-show for the audiences to connect instantly with the characters.
On the flip side, though one identifies with the common man in CHALA MUSSADDI OFFICE OFFICE and you may draw parallels with real-life, the film doesn't hit you like a ton of bricks. That's because the drama isn't as invigorating and impactful. One has witnessed all this and more in real/reel life and the sequence of incidents don't really catch you unaware. The writer [Ashwni Dhir] and director [Rajiv Mehra] make an effort to pack just about every corrupt aspect that occur in our day-to-day lives in those 1.30 hours, but barring an incident or two, you absorb these sequences monotonously, without going through any emotion [ecstatic / distressing]. You aren't elated either, when the common man stands vindicated in the finale.
Retired schoolmaster Mussaddi Lal Tripathi [Pankaj Kapur], the quintessential common man, troubled by his wife's [Farida Jalal] serious illness, takes her to the hospital where the utter negligence and vested interests of the doctors result in her untimely death. Mussaddi, along with his unemployed son Bunty [Gaurav Kapoor], sets out for his pilgrimage to the four Holy sites for the immersion of his wife's ashes. In his absence, the pension officers arrive at Mussaddi's house to enquire his status. Mussaddi's neighbor tells them that Mussaddi has gone far away and the Pension Officers interpret that Mussaddi has expired and report him dead in their files.
When Mussaddi returns, he discovers to his utter shock that he is dead, according to government files. He tries his best to make the Pension Office staff believe that he is alive, but they are not convinced at all as they want proof. Bemused and dejected by the irony of the situation, Mussaddi sets out on his mission to gather proof that he is alive, while the Pension Office employees resolve that whatever proof Mussaddi brings, they will not allow him to be officially alive since they have already mopped up his pension money. That's when Mussaddi decides to revolt in his own way.
Director Rajiv Mehra and writer Ashwni Dhir try to encompass various incidents highlighting the corrupt system and the dilemma of the common man, but corruption, as an issue, is beaten to death in Hindi movies. Ideally, the writer should've integrated incidents that are hitherto unknown to a wide majority. Only then this fight-for-right saga would've created the desired impact. Also, though the courtroom sequence towards the end is well handled, the entire exercise of recreating the incident at the venue looks so unreal in a film that strives to be real. Also, the humor associated with the tele-serial is missing here.
Pankaj Kapur is a versatile actor and he portrays the plight of the common man most effectively. Sanjay Mishra, Deven Bhojani, Manoj Pahwa, Hemant Pandey and Asawari Joshi are cast in varied roles and each of them sparkles in their respective parts. Gaurav Kapoor is wonderful. Vinay Jain leaves a mark in a brief role. Farida Jalal appears in a cameo, while Makarand Deshpande makes an appearance in a song. Mahesh Thakur [as the judge] leaves a mark.
On the whole, CHALA MUSSADDI OFFICE OFFICE releases at a time when corruption and bribery are piping hot topics, but the impact it ought to make is missing. Those who recall the tele-serial fondly may reconnect with the on-screen characters, but how one wishes the drama was as impactful. Bluntly put, the tele-serial was much, much better than the film!