This weekend there are two releases. Shyam Benegal’s Well Done Abba and Kabir Kaushik’s Hum Tum Aur Ghost. At 76, Benegal is still in no mood to rest. Well Done Abba stars Boman Irani, Minissha Lamba and Samir Dattani and like many of Benegal’s films, its a social satire.
Anupama Chopra (NDTV) – The end result is that Well Done Abba is heart-felt and intermittently funny but not flat-out delightful like Benegal’s last film Welcome to Sajjanpur. You need oodles of patience to enjoy this one. I recommend that you wait for the DVD so you can speed up things yourself – 2.5/5
Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – Despite some genuinely comic portions in which Benegal exposes the extent of double dealing and bribery involved in Indian rural politics, the film as a whole is hard to enjoy because of its sluggish pace, and because of your inability to empathize with Armaan Ali – 2.5/5
Mayank Shekhar (HT) – Benegal’s certainly locked in a lyrical, layered screenplay here. The subject’s grim. The optimism is unique. Armaan realises along the way the power of an election coming up, the RTI Act, the mike, and the media. The state legislature debates a stolen well. The film remains a fine black comedy, which could only disappoint in parts for its weakened pace, or the director’s discomfort with a soundtrack to help with the movie’s commerce – 3/5
Shubhra Gupta (Indian Express) – But the downside of `Well Done Abba’ is that it is too lax, and, after a point, too stuffed. The pace picks up so slowly that you nearly tune out, and when post-interval, everything seems to be settling down nicely, Benegal starts throwing about long winded acronyms : spelling out the Right To Information Act can stop a movie dead – 2/5
Gaurav Malani (Indiatimes) – Despite being a trail and tribulation journey, Benegal’s direction has a feel-good charm to it. The simplicity in his storytelling is so charming that even when the film extends beyond its climax into a celebratory song, you don’t mind much. The authenticity of a rural setting is something that can never go wrong in a Shyam Benegal film – 3/5
Kaveree Bamzai (India Today) – It’s not the work of a helicoptering writer. It is the work of someone who has watched this life closely and carefully, so well done Ashok Mishra for the screenplay. It’s a place where there are ever more creative terms for bribes–from Diwali to Dussehra to peele Gandhiji. Where dowry is asked for three-door fridges and deewar-wala TV. Where police stations spend time registering thefts of hens, breaking the bakri’s leg, or stealing a door. Watch it and laugh. And wonder at what we have all come to. Pity about the songs though. We could have done without them – 3.5/5
Minty Tejpal (Mumbai Mirror) – Well Done Abba is a sweet, whimsical political satire, quite a rare breed in Bollywood. Veteran director Shyam Benegal explores the familiar theme of corruption and inefficiency in small town India in his wry, deliberate manner, a refreshing change in these hypercharged days – 3/5
Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – The film is a sheer delight, with the events unfolding in a breezy, comic vein which keeps the ribs relentlessly tickling. But what’s more alluring are the colourful characters and the multi-layered approach to the problems of a village which becomes a microcosm of the entire nation – 4/5
Kabir Kaushik made a brillant debut with Sehar. But nobody knows what happened to Chamku. And now its Hum Tum Aur Ghost, which looks similar to GhostTown. Arshad Warsi turns producer & writer with this one and stars alongwith Boman Irani & Dia Mirza. So, is it really Ghost Town or just another coincidence in B-town ?
Anupama Chopra (NDTV) – At the end of Hum Tum aur Ghost, a character declares: kisi ne sahi kaha hai, love conquers all. Not quite. For one, love cannot conquer this muddled script, which veers between rom-com, drama and high emotion, in the most meandering way possible – 2/5
Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – Ultimately the film is predictable and tiring because it’s an interesting idea that’s been stretched way beyond its potential. The usually dependable Arshad Warsi delivers a few light moments, and Boman Irani as a friendly ghost helps muster up a couple of laughs. But director Kabeer Kaushik, who gave us the gripping cop drama Sehar, doesn’t seem to have the light-handed touch required to turn this flimsy concept into a fun-filled ride – 2/5
Mayank Shekhar (HT) – Body dies, soul remains, and we all seek ‘mukti’ (salvation), is a very Hindu belief. It appears a natural subject for a Hindi film. The lead actor, also the producer, credits himself for the film’s story. He could’ve acknowledged the little help from David Koepp and the makers of Ghost Town (2008). The protagonist there has his dead buddy, a ghost, follow him around for a purpose. Here he makes contact with an entire town full of ghosts – 1.5/5
Shubhra Gupta (Indian Express) – The pow-wows between the ghosts and the sole human who can see them range from the funny and the lachrymose ( cue, close-up of Warsi, eyes brimming over), but the former are few and far. The interactions between the humans are equally contrived : Armaan’s girlfriend, the glamorous editor of a fashion magazine, is always dressed to the hilt ; his assistant exists solely to declare that she’s lesbian. Gosh. All of these are actors who can make a film thoroughly enjoyable . But `Hum Tum Aur Ghost’ is not that film – 1/5
Gaurav Malani (Indiatimes) – Arshad Warsi’s debut as a writer is so ‘lifeless’ in Hum Tum aur Ghost that even his ‘spirited’ performance isn’t able to save the dead slow film from dying a slow death – 2/5
Kaveree Bamzai (India Today) – I couldn’t decide what was more grating. Dia’s mile wide smile? Warsi’s scruffy drunkenness? Irani’s desperate attempt to breathe life into a leaden script? Or Shernaz Patel’s faux seriousness as Warsi’s psychiatrist (by the way, why do Bollywood psychiatrists wear spectacles and speak in an accent like Shefali Shah in Karthik Calling Karthik?) And why has Bollywood suddenly discovered diseases? It doesn’t matter. The film is so boring that it threatens to put you to sleep. Hum Tum Aur Ghost is guaranteed to make you wish someone dead – 1/5
Minty Tejpal (Mumbai Mirror) – Whenever the screenplay sags, which is quite often, Arshad starts clicking babes in bikinis or the lovebirds start singing a song, both of which merely titillate to deceive. Arshad tries his best but seems lost through the film, Dia is ditzy but decent, Boman is quite wasted while Sandhya stays spunky – 1.5/5
Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – When it comes to performances, it’s the Arshad-Boman chemistry that crackles and invests the film with sparkle and wit. Dia Mirza too has her moments as the feisty girlfriend while Sandhya Mridul ends up mostly wasted as a sidekick. What’s even more disappointing is Shankar-Ehsan-Loy’s audio track which fails to throw up a single hummable tune – 2.5/5
Well Done Abba seems to be clear winner this week but the reviews are not as glowing as it was for Welcome To Sajjanpur.