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Upperstall Review

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Well Done Abba

 

Hindi, Urdu, Drama, 2010, Color





Armaan Ali, (Boman Irani) a driver working for a Senior Executive in Mumbai, who goes on leave. He wants to find a match for his teenage daughter, Muskaan (Minissha Lamba) who stays with his brother Rehman Ali (Boman again)and his wife Salma (Ila Arun). When Armaan returns to work after 3 months his young employer wants to sack him. But Armaan Ali has a story to tell. The story he tells is a humorous and often hilarious account of the events and happenings that delayed him from returning after a month. He avails a government scheme to dig a well in his agricultural patch. Things spiral out of control so much so that the Government is about to collapse! The question remains, how true is this compelling story!



You're even more disappointed than usual after walking out of Well Done Abba, especially as the film had tremendous potential and could have been a cracker of a satire. What should have been a crisp 90 minute film centred around the corruption we face today, the FIR and its aftermath regarding the 'stolen wells', is instead killed by a meandering and unfocused screenplay, full of too many unnecessary subplots involving each and every one of the huge ensemble cast thereby stretching the film to breaking point. And break it does. Maybe the film should have stuck to a single source material rather than 3.

OK, so the film had the right idea and a certain feel but it fails totally in its translation to the screen. Having a great idea or looking at certain social issues doesn't necessary make for a good film. The screenplay is all over the place, is far too verbose, everything is laid out and underlined through dialogue and much like a rookie director's mistake, the film tries to cram in too many issues. The film is told by Boman Irani to his boss, Rahul Singh but what we are shown in the flashback sequences is typical of the worst of Indian cinema as his story is opened up, made neutral with several scenes not even involving Boman and frankly there was no need for many of them. For example from the first scene where we see Ravi Kishen talking to his wife, we know he they are newlyweds who can't keep their hands off each other yet we must constantly have scenes of him and his wife Sonali Kulkarni having a go for it. And this when Boman is not even around! And this is true of all characters and their sub-plots. Normally, we complain about our films lacking proper subplots and layering but Well Done Abba goes the other extreme at the cost of keeping the film focused and coherent. Little wonder then that the film gets tedious, overlong and uninvolving. For instance, once the wells have to be ready a single rapidly cut montage amongst the various characters who have to get it ready could have moved the film forward (since the film cuts to them in any case) instead of long winded scenes with each of them. The scene in the Hyderabad hotel when Ravi Kishen is called back is plain tacky. What was Shonali Kulkarni doing in it??? Even the last scene, which is meant to make you wonder how true or false Armaan's story is, fails to work and you are more relieved that the film has finally ended more than anything else.

That said, the film does come to life sporadically in the second half as it focuses on the stolen wells. And this is what really the film should have been about. It is here that the film gets engrossing enough only to fall flat again as it goes on and on after the well issue is solved. Areef being an orphan has no bearing to the story and the scene of the letter from Sakina is as clumsy a script device as any to make Armaan Ali realise he was making a mistake with Muskaan's marriage. You're also not quite sure to make of the final solution. The corrupt chain is actually felicitated rather than punished so where did the money come from to make the 75 wells. The tax payer's money? Really, is this the solution to corruption - to cover up by further abusing the tax payer's money??? C'mon!

The ensemble cast is enthusiastic and do what they can. We have Benegal's usual suspects and they are efficient enough. But it takes time to warm up to Boman Irani. He has his moments in the film but he also appears to be 'acting'. Ditto with Minissha Lamba and Dattani. They seem too be telling you, see our body language, our diction, our effort. Yes, we see it. The effort shows and for all sincerity, it is laboured. Dattani even fails with his limp in places.

The technicalities are so-so. The songs go with the plot but thanks to the weak screenplay don't have much of an impact. All in all, sadly one has to say Well done Abba is not done well at all.


Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan





 

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