What's the recipe for a winning motion picture? A gigantic financial plan? Striking locales? A mammoth star cast? Strictly going by the number of low cost films that found tremendous appreciation, it reiterates and restates the fact that content always reigns supreme. 'Small' films like LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA, TERE BIN LADEN, UDAAN, PEEPLI [LIVE], KHICHDI and DO DOONI CHAAR have had a lot to say when compared to several mammoth ventures, which drove on star power while content took a complete backseat.
Subhash Kapoor's PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA banks on a taut screenplay and not a showy star cast to deliver the goods. Choosing an interesting plot is one thing and doing justice to it is another. But the assorted characters, the sequence of events in the narrative and the bunch of talented actors do the trick. At the same time, though the film has the right running time, it could've done with some sharper editing at places.
Final word? PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA may not boast of stars to entice the viewers in hordes. It may not have a colossal canvas [on the contrary, the making is very basic]. It may not have a wonderful musical score to act as a hook [there are hardly any songs here]. But PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA succeeds, and succeeds largely, in its endeavour: Make the viewer laugh at the right places. A small little gem that deserves a watch.
PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA traces the journey of Om [Rajat Kapoor], an American citizen of Indian origin, who loses all his wealth overnight to the global recession and is asked to vacate his home by the bank, unless he pays up $ 100,000 [the mortgaged amount] within 30 days.
Seeing no other option, Om comes to India to sell a small piece of an ancestral property. But within days of landing in India, he is kidnapped by a 'recession-hit' underworld gang [Sanjay Mishra, Manu Rishi, Amit Sial], who think that he is still a millionaire. How do the gangsters cope with their catch forms the rest of the story.
PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA showcases how global recession/meltdown impacted lives, affecting not just an America-based businessman, but also an underworld don in the dusty plains of small-town India. A spanklingly new idea indeed. And the assorted characters, right from Sanjay Mishra to Manu Rishi to Neha Dhupia to Amole Gupte, only make the goings-on spicy.
Handled deftly by Subhash Kapoor, an extremely talented director, the film has several sequences that stay in your memory much after the film has concluded. I'd like to single out the sequence when Manu Rishi meets Rajat Kapoor for the first time. The sequence involving the English class teacher also stays with you. The climax is smart and I really liked the way Subhash Kapoor concluded the story.
PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA is an engaging film because of its largely original writing. Also, director Subhash Kapoor allows the actors enough room to interpret their characters well. Rajat Kapoor as the suave NRI is natural, Neha Dhupia as Lady Gabbar is convincing, Sanjay Mishra as the broke gangster is incredible, Manu Rishi as the helpless sidekick of the gangster is wonderful and Amole Gupte as the gangster/politician gets his timing spot-on. Although each actor pitches in a commendable performance, I'd like to single out Sanjay Mishra and Manu Rishi for making every sequence they feature in, tremendous.
On the whole, PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA banks on an interesting premise rather than a galaxy of stars to deliver what it promises. Few film-makers stick their necks out to tell tricky and complex stories in these days of mindless entertainers making loads of money at the ticket window. For their intentions alone, the makers of PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA merit that support. Here's a request to all cine lovers and also multiplexes, from this writer. Give this one a chance. Let's nurture and support it well, so that genuine and honest efforts like PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA don't go unnoticed.