PATAAKHA | 29 September, 2018

B4U Motion Pictures, Kyta Productions and VB Films’ Pataakha (UA) is the story of two sisters who can’t stand the sight of each other.

Badki, real name Champa (Radhika Madan), and Chhutki, real name Genda (Sanya Malhotra), live in a small town of Rajasthan with their father (Vijay Raaz). Both the girls study in the same school. They fight like cats and dogs on the slightest pretext, abusing and even beating up one another. Their father is saddened by their constant fights.

Patel (Saanand Verma), a widower, is keen to marry any one of the two sisters. The father agrees to get one daughter married to Patel when he (Patel) gives the father a business loan after everyone else turns down his request. It is decided that Badki would marry Patel but on the day of the wedding, she elopes with her boyfriend, Jagan (Namit Das). The lecherous Patel now wants to marry Chhutki but she, too, elopes with her boyfriend, Vishnu (Abhishek Duhan), on the wedding day. To the horror of the forever-at-war sisters, it turns out that Jagan and Vishnu are real brothers who live with their grandmother (Usha Nagar).

Anyway, while the two sisters live with their grandmother-in-law, the jobs of Jagan and Vishnu take them to the city. Since Patel wants back the money he had lent Badki and Chhutki’s father right away, it falls upon Jagan and Vishnu to make arrangements for the same.

It turns out that for several years now, Badki and Chhutki have been living with the old lady while their husbands are away in the city, returning at intervals. Both, Badki and Chhutki, have a daughter each. It doesn’t seem likely that Badki and Chhutki would get to stay with their respective husbands any time soon. Their frustration grows.

Badki and Chhutki have promised their father that they would henceforth not fight with each other. Their friend, Dipper (Sunil Grover), comes visiting them one day and gives them an idea which would ensure that they would get to stay with their husbands. What is that idea? Do Badki and Chhutki agree with Dipper’s idea? What happens thereafter?

Charan Singh Pathik’s story is based on the real-life story of two sisters. But the writer has not bothered to explain why the two sisters hate each other so much. Besides, the manner in which the sisters fight will not be digested by a large chunk of the audience who may actually find the foul language they use for each other and the manner in which they beat up one another, repulsive. Vishal Bhardwaj’s screenplay is written with conviction but its universal acceptance is impossible. Rather, a very small section of the audience would be able to feel engaged in the drama which shows two sisters as being thirsty for each other’s blood, that too, for no solid or even any other reason. Why Dipper rejoices each time Badki and Chhutki get into a fight is also not clear because he doesn’t stand to gain anything. Yes, some of the fight scenes and other scenes are entertaining and even evoke laughter but the drama mostly is unpalatable. The second half dips quite a lot till Dipper arrives on the scene, from where it picks up again. But the pre-climax appears too farcical – and so does the climax.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are very good but because many of them are in chaste Rajasthani, they would not be understood too easily pan-India. Use of too many expletives would definitely put off ladies and family audiences.

Sanya Malhotra is excellent as Chhutki (Genda). She immerses herself completely into the character and delivers a splendid performance. She looks every inch the character she plays. Radhika Madan is first-rate as Badki (Champa). She makes a fantastic Bollywood debut and impresses a great deal with her free performance. Namit Das gives a fine and mature performance as Jagan. Abhishek Duhan is endearing in the role of Vishnu. His and Chhutki’s awkwardly spoken English dialogues are pretty entertaining. Sunil Grover is outstanding as Dipper. He is supremely natural and effortless. Vijay Raaz lives the role of the helpless and hapless father of Chhutki and Badki. He shines with his superb acting. Saanand Verma leaves a wonderful mark as Patel. Usha Nagar lends good support as Jagan and Vishnu’s grandmother. Sameer Khakhar is adequate as the sarpanch. Baby Advita Tank (as the 4-year-old Badki), baby Priyanshi Damani (as the 3-year-old Chhutki), baby Zoya Shah (as the 8-year-old Badki), baby Samriddhi Jain (as the young Chhutki), Kunal Teli (as Ballu), Kusum Gupta and Minakshi Parmar (both as the women at the fair), Chomina Beyong (as the Nepali wife of Patel), Ajay Kumar (as the eye surgeon), Bhuvnesh Shetty (as the ENT specialist), and the others provide the required support.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s direction is very good but both, his screenplay as well as narrative style, have very limited appeal. Had the film been a laugh riot, its appeal would’ve been huge. Vishal Bhardwaj’s music is nice but there’s not a single hit song. Gulzar’s lyrics are weighty. Vishal Bhardwaj’s background score is impactful. Choreography (Shabina Khan for ‘Balma’ and ‘Gali Gali’; Ganesh Acharya for ‘Hello Hello’) is fair. Ranjan Palit’s cinematography is very good. Harpal Singh Pali’s action and stunt scenes are truly realistic. Production designing (by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray) is of a fine standard. A. Sreekar Prasad’s editing is sharp, but the film itself is slow and repetitive at places for no fault of the editor.

On the whole, Pataakha has some appeal for the gentry audience only. Too many four-letter words, too many dialogues in Rajasthani, and lack of justification for the fights will go against its box-office prospects. In other words, its fate at the ticket windows will be poor.

Released on 28-9-’18 at Inox (daily 4 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay thru Eros International. Publicity: so-so. Opening: quite dull. …….Also released all over. Opening was weak almost everywhere.