Felt bad that talented powerhouse performers like Sanjay Mishra and Zakir Hussain never really got leading roles that they deserve? Then, please go watch the well-meaning Saare Jahaan Se Mehenga that’s playing in a select few halls.
Yes, the film rambles on and on about inflation. It exaggerates, repeats itself, rants on about the problem without offering any realistic economic solution but it also shows us how hard inflation hits the common man and affects relationships.
The pace and the tone takes a little getting used to but once you warm up to the characters, you are bound to ignore the rough edges and actually see that it has a heart that beats for the common man.
Satire is never an easy genre to pull off but director Anshul Sharma does a pretty decent job in capturing the angst of the Indian middle class that has no choice but to deal with multiple price hikes, increasing needs but very little income during times of recession.
Saare Jaahan Se Mehenga has the charm of Eighties cinema that may seem dated but its this old worldliness that gives the film a certain purity and innocence. Imagine a film made today with a hero whose name is Puttanlal (played by an excellent Sanjay Mishra). It’s almost like a character out of Kundan Shah-Saeed Mirza’s endearing TV series Nukkad found himself in a leading role in a movie.
The humour stems from the situations and the extent to which Puttanlal’s family goes to fight price hike after hitting upon a novel idea: Take the interest free loan the Government gives for setting up shop and buy groceries for three whole years so that you don’t need to worry about inflation. Until the loan inspector (Zakir Hussain, also fantastic) shows up to investigate if the amount disbursed was indeed used for setting up shop!
That the makers take half the length of the film to get to this point is somewhat of a mood killer but then, we rarely make films that are about everyday issues and often complain about how most cinema is escapist.
Saare Jahaan Se Mehenga is escapist in its own way but the world it shows us is so real that we instantly connect.
Think of it as your garrulous neighbour telling you a funny story of how he fought inflation.
Given the inflation of budgets and marketing spends, it is a miracle that a film like this with no stars to boast of got made and got a release.
Over to us now. To support it.
Director: Anshul Sharma
Cast: Sanjay Mishra, Zakir Hussain, Pragati Pandey, Vishwa Mohan Badola
Storyline: A family decides to take a loan under a Government scheme for entrepreneurs to fight inflation
Bottomline: A sincere film straight from the heart that takes too long to get going