Sorry Bhai! has a nice, gentle feel to it and does bring a smile to your face on and off with some well conceived sequences and some fine performances. But in the final analysis, though it treads the road not taken, it is nothing more than a piece of fluff that somewhere falls well short of being there.
The blame here must fall on the story and screenplay. The story is much too simplistic and its key plot points too convenient to avoid any complexities. This also results in very few ups and downs and by and large the narration is totally flat and consequently, uninvolving. The beginning and end cheesy oh-we’re-so-clever cheating scenes, reminiscent of Parineeta, don’t add anything to the film whatsoever.
The film is also inconsistent in its treatment. Considering it aims for a genteel flow, subtlety rather than loudness, many of the dialogues, voiceovers and monologues are obvious and SPELT OUT that go against the grain of the film. The ‘Maa Kasam’ track and its use in a key moment of the film is extremely weak and even the scene ‘explaining its relevance’ to give it that much needed depth and believability fails to do so. In fact, sometimes we’re better off keeping the so called commercial elements in the hands of the obvious commercial filmmakers only as they know how to play with them far more effectively. The dream sequences of Siddharth with a saxophone and Shruti and later Aliyah in a red dress are plain tacky and the less said of the scene of Harry and Marco as beggars the better. In fact, when this scene played out, an audience member was actually heard going “Yaar yeh director actoron se kya, kya karvata hai.”
True, there are some extremely well-worked out scenes and the film has some nice moments. The sequences of Aliyah and Siddharth spending time together are well-developed even if the moment of banging into each other and viola – realization of love is the worst typical Hindi film cliché. The scenes where Siddharth tells Harry he loves Aliyah or the one where Gayatri tells Siddharth he can never wed Aliyah have a sense of maturity and control in their treatment and are pretty effective.
It’s really the performances more than anything else that lift the film several notches. Shabana Azmi attacks her role with gusto and proves yet again what a fine artiste she is. Admittedly, she tends to be overbearing and a little over the top at times but then that’s her character. Boman Irani complements her perfectly and the two share an easy, on-screen chemistry that is delightful to watch. His final outburst is brilliant and though he plays a perfect foil to Shabana’s obvious performance, one has to say his is the performance of the film. Sharman Joshi and Sanjay Suri are efficient enough, having their moments but the big, big disappointment is Chitrangda Singh. Admittedly, she is hampered by a role not as well-fleshed out as the others, but she does have to go through a gamut of emotions and she fails to do anything with them. She is superficial and stilted throughout and her voiceovers or monologues in the toilet are plain embarrassing. And why is her make up looking so awful?
Technically, it is refreshing to see a film where the technical department, be it the sound design, background score or editing, has a level of subtlety and is largely unobtrusive and sticks to the demands of the script, even if the otherwise efficient cinematography at times does fall prey to ‘obvious’ framing bringing attention to itself. The film makes decent use of its locales within the script, something which most of our films fail to do. The second half and the slow pace makes you feel the length of the film and perhaps the script itself needed some editing here. And while you appreciate that an effort has been made to go for longer takes to give the narrative flow some fluidity, you do wish the makers had coordinated the character and camera movements better and designed the shots and scenes a little more innovatively.
All in all, the film is average and while a big jump from Onir’s disastrous last outing, Bas Ek Pal, it still doesn’t measure up to the promise he showed with his directorial debut, My Brother Nikhil.