Shyam Benegal has always churned out unconventional movies that convey a distinctive message in a simple style. Starring Boman Irani, Minissha Lamba, Samir Dattani and Ila Arun in the lead, â€˜Well Done Abbaâ€™ the latest from his stable, also speaks about corruption and its way in government departments.
Set in background of rural India, like his last flick Welcome to Sajjanpur, Well Done Abba is about a driver of a wealthy businessman who embarks on a journey to his village Chikatpali near Hyderabad to hunt for a suitable groom for his daughter. But once he arrives in his village, his attention is turned to a more important issue that has been haunting the villagers, lack of basic necessity â€˜waterâ€™. He decides to solve this by digging a well in his ancestral land and learns about a government scheme that entitles him to get the full amount to construct a well. But the foul mechanism in the government offices leaves him with not even a penny for he had to assure every official dealing the process with something to pass on the application. Who comes to his rescue? What about his daughterâ€™s wedding?
Benegalâ€™s Well Done Abba has everything that is trademark of every film he makes â€“ a script with substance, irony and satire. The film has a simple plot but suffers due to its pace. Ideally the runtime should have been a good 20 minutes shorter and a few unnecessary scenes were better avoided.
The film deals with corruption (government schemes for the underprivileged et al) and starts off pretty well in the first half. The characters are well-sketched, we have Arman Ali, a driver who returns to work after several months on leave. His daughter Muskaan (Minissha) who along with Arif Ali (Sameer Dattani) are part of the love angle, which is handled with restrain. The other characters too are much like those seen in several other Benegal films â€“ interesting and real.
The dialogues (Ashok Mishra) are perfect for the unsophisticated country people. The cinematography is good. The costumes (Pia Benegal) go well with the characters and Shantanu Moitraâ€™s music is nice.
Benegal like always manages to extract terrific performances from his cast. Boman Irani is fantastic, watch out for his expressions and body language. Minissha Lamba surprises with a beautiful performance, has to be her best performance ever. Others like Rajendra Gupta, Ravi Jhankal, Rajit Kapoor, Ila Arun do well.
Overall, Well Done Abba is a well-directed film and has plenty of trademark Benegal moments that make its a good one time watch. With a bit of patience, youâ€™ll walk out with a smile. Give it a try.