Satires in their relatively rare existence have proven to be difficult to work upon in our film industry. For every 'Jaane bhi do yaaron', we also have a 'Peepli'. Director Subhash Kapoor sets his talented cast in the aftermath of the global recession with an outrageous mockery of the President's Yes We Can slogan. From its harshness about recession in America to the hilarious slump time for the local underworld, Phas Gaye Re Obama works in all aspects.
The once millionaire, now in-debt Om Shastri (Rajat Kapoor) is on the verge of bankruptcy with his home on the brink of foreclosure in a month's time. Unless he finds means to pay off the bank, the recession threatens to bring his family on the street. In a desperate attempt to salvage a family fortune, Om travels to his homeland only to find that the recession has hit the hinterland as well and it will be impossible to sell the ancestral Haveli. However, the news of a millionaire NRI reaches the ears of Bhai Saab (Sanjay Mishra), a dejected yet ambitious small time gangster who kidnaps Shastri in broad daylight. Now, not only does Shastri have to salvage his home, but he also has to escape from the clutches of the tiered underworld of rural India involving Bhai Saab, Ali Bhai, Munni and an aspiring minister who secretly runs a very well organized kidnapping business.
While the film gradually gathers pace in the first half after introducing its characters, the audience is entertained through hilarious scenes and dialogues that suggest nothing loud and ridiculous but are wacky and genuinely funny. The second half of the film is where the director shows his adroitness in dealing with suspense, drama and comedy in a satire while making it all sensible. As the screenplay draws your attention through a narrower tunnel, the focal point becomes Shastri's ingenious suggestion of his 'idea' to the goons, leading you to rejoice, applaud or grab another handful of popcorn till the next part unravels. Phas gaye re Obama is witty and without being nonsensical, it tries well to elaborate the plight of an opportunist in adverse circumstances that often tend to be seriously funny. The film's strengths lie in the director's ability to engage the actors into their characters leading to their laudable performances, the crisp screenplay that leaves no room for fillers, the witty dialogues however silly and a smooth blend of comedy stirred into serious circumstances. Often times, the film looks very serious but the characters have been introduced so well, that one cannot control the smirk even in a serious scene. While its comedy may not be a constant throughout, the lack of excessive has led to this film being worthy of a watch.
Rajat Kapoor is a versatile actor and here, he leads his co-actors while showcasing a fine understanding of Om Shastri's circumstances. Sanjay Mishra was always capable of being more than a sidekick to someone and here, he proves that he is dependable in all comic avatars. Manu Rishi plays the pro-American Anni who works for the gangsters but deep within, is a friend-in-deed of Om Shastri. Neha Dhupia, in a shorter role, does better than her attempts at anything else in her glamorous career and Amole Gupte as the sly politician is convincingly brilliant.
The sequence with 'Tyagi English Coaching classs' is sure the bring the house down while many dialogues and scenes involving Sanjay Mishra, Amole Gupte and Manu Rishi hold the comic bits together.
Phas Gaye Re Obama is new age non-formulaic cinema that is funny unlike the attempted comedy of errors that we are subjected to so often. This is an effective satire with the recession's repercussions experienced by likeable characters who are enriched by the director's adept writing and screenplay. If you enjoyed 'Tere Bin Laden', then you have no reason not to embrace this tribute to Obama.
8.110 on a scale of 1-10.