Royal treat: Love, lust and politics

It’s unusual for a Hindi film to begin with a love scene, but then Tigmanshu Dhulia is not your regular Bollywood filmmaker.

He cuts straight to the chase — in as much as he makes it clear that Irrfan Khan/Inderjit Singh and Soha Ali Khan/Ranjana are not just being introduced as new characters (read lovers) in the sequel but will be playing pivotal roles in the lives of his main characters, Jimmy Shergill as Saheb and his wife Mahie Gill as Madhavi Devi.

As Saheb and Madhavi continue to wash dirty linen in public and it’s obvious that there is definitely no love lost here, Dhulia quietly introduces not one but two triangle situations by placing Ranjana in Saheb’s life while introducing Inderjit to the ever lascivious Madhavi. 

Unlike a lot of Hindi cinema, SBAGR is a multi-layered film and therein lies its USP. Dhulia takes a non-linear narrative, including the sub-text of UP politics and its dirty underbelly too. Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns is a slicker, thick with innuendo and well-scripted film, which would have stood on its own even without the shadow of its prequel.

Even though it seeks to highlight women, it is dominated by exemplary work done by Shergill and Irrfan. And despite the fact Irrfan gently informs Madhavi, “Aap raj keejiye, raajneeti hum par chhod deejiye,” (You rule, we’ll take care of politics) it is he who, in the end, learns who are the better politicians.

Shergill on his part emerges from the ruins of his haveli to rule the script and how! As one shunning his philanderer wife and a royal desperate to hold onto his fading glory by embracing politics (the new power centre) — though he thinks it beneath his dignity to be called a ‘neta’ — Shergill best sums up his current status when he says, “Hum Rajah hain. I can afford an extra wife.”

While Soha makes a quiet impression as a woman reluctant to fall in love with Saheb after being forcibly engaged to him, Mahie Gill proves to be the weakest link in a script meant to prop her up. As a perpetually drunk woman who wants love, money, respect and men at her beck and call, Mahie as Madhavi fails to convince. Not that she does not try. The trouble is she tries too hard.

The film follows a cyclical process (life) beginning and ending with Soha, but leaves itself open-ended — leaving scope for yet another film to complete a trilogy, if that is what Dhulia intends.

Shot in warm, earthy tones by Yogesh Jani, SBAGR is a film that you cannot miss. Dhulia stamps his own, once more.

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