A day of dreams brimming with reality. A day of hopes finding happiness. A day of sweat on the brow shining against the sun of fame. A day of darkness bowing to the arc lights. A day of confidence. A day of goosebumps. A day of bouquets. A day of brickbats. The day of Chor Bani Thangat Kare’s release isn’t just another day for someone like Rahul Bhole, a Vadodara-based filmmaker who started out with short films.
Before we proceed with the review, a digression here: There are around 100 Gujarati films currently being made and the average cost including marketing and release per film is about two crores. With almost one or two Gujarati films releasing every weekend, the industry is growing exponentially to be reckoned as a 200-crore industry and still growing. Despite such encouraging figures and films like Kevi Rite Jaish, Bey Yaar and Wrong Side Raju (All from the same stable of CineMan films) already set higher benchmarks, Gujarati films seldom draw the audience to the theatre.
What keeps them away from Gujarati films is perhaps the kind of clones being churned out every Friday with films revolving around a group of friends (With toilet sense of humour), a girl (Wearing an expression of ‘what am I doing here?’), bootlegger (Dry-sigh state), jugaad for money (After all, Gujarat is a business-centric state so no films can be made without money being the core theme), and of course, Garba (Drone shots. Masked dancers’ shots. Flirting shots. Check.).
This is where Chor Bani Thangat Kare scores. It steers clear of all the clichés associated with Gujarati films and even if it does touch the ‘daaru’ aspect, it makes sure that the scene is an integral part of the film’s narrative, rather than just another dry state gag. What really works here is the engaging screenplay peppered by hilarious dialogues and a cast that essays characters you’d root for, despite the predictability.
Rajkumar Trivedi, aka Robin suffers from kleptomania, a psychological disorder that makes him a compulsive thief without him realizing it. The biggest obstacle this character must brave through is the ability to make people around him understand the fact that he is not a chor i.e. thief. Amit Mistry plays Robin with a gleeful ease, so much so that he might be christened as Robin after this film. This gem of an actor literally ‘stole’ the show in the second half of Bey Yaar and choosing him to play Robin is the best casting decision of the filmmaker.
Well, as karma would have it, here another actor steals the show from Amit Mistry (not that he would mind, as he is a character you’d never forget after watching the film), who is none other than Ojas Rawal. An actor who began with a rather serious role in Tejas Padiaa’s Gujarati film debut, Polampol, goes for a complete spin here by playing two hilarious characters, one being a local chor and the other as a lookalike of Baba Ramdev. Ojas is a sheer delight to watch and each time he appears on the screen, you’re already hoping for an encore.
Bijal Joshi, as the actress does a decent job playing a character which seems to be written in haste. Despite being a pivot to the film’s plot, she fails to leave an impact, blame it on the passive treatment her character is lent. There isn’t a single moment in the film where she is assertive and comes on her own and is always pushed to action by someone, either the lead actor or her grandma. Even the old Nokia and backstory is reminiscent of Kareena’s character in 3 Idiots and doesn’t add anything to the narration, except the predictable utility of her phone in the film’s end.
Prem Gadhvi impresses with his character of Lenti, a friend who is always by the side of Robin through every thick and thin. The actor has grown with each film, to become an essential part of every Gujarati film and already has a large fan following, which is evident when the audience cheers for him during his entry scene.
Manan Desai, an ex-RJ turned stand-up comedian and curator for India’s best talents in comedy, makes an interesting cameo as a terrorist with an ability to make the cops apologize for hitting him. No matter how farfetched this may sound, but the actor does it with a conviction that will leave you in splits. Chirayu Mistry, a popular stand-up comedian of Vadodara plays an interesting role of an instalment collection executive carrying a saw. These are one of those rare cameos that go on to prove that the length of an actor’s role doesn’t matter, if it has been written and portrayed well. Other stand-up comedians like Aariz Saiyed and Preeti Das show up as news anchors too.
The music by Sachin-Jigar is soothing and lends the film a much-needed breather (how long can you keep laughing continuously?). Speaking of songs, this is a film where the songs are seamlessly woven into the narrative. ‘Bhuli jau chhe’ and ‘Mauj-E-Dariya’ (Benny Dayal’s first Gujarati song) are tracks you’d look up on iTunes and listen on a loop.
Like any other film made on a limited budget (the production values are top-notch, mind you), few scenes do stick out as sore thumb, especially the yoga session that is supposed to have 3000 participants, while what barely hundred show up and the terrorists keep insisting that they are 3000. But thanks to Ojas Rawal, whose performance as the Ramdev Baba lookalike prevents you from noticing such slipups. Even the terrorists are replete with stereotypes (Why are the walls of their rooms always green?).
The film’s basic premise of a reluctant thief itself gives way to multiple possibilities, which the writer-director Rahul Bhole explores to the hilt, thankfully, without going overboard. The smartest thing that he does with the plot is to focus on one story and throw in an ensemble of madcap characters. It wouldn’t be surprising if Rahul Bhole comes up with a sequel of Chor Bani Thangat Kare. We’re already waiting.