Global Baba: A film that might be loud but does talk sense

Actor Sunny Deol unveiling music album of the movie.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Director: Manoj Tewari

Starring: Ravi Kishan, Abhimanyu Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, Akhilendra Mishra, Sandeepa Dhar

Run time: 2 hours

Never judge a film by its title. The opening sequence of Global Baba, involving a gripping war of words between a cop Jacob (Ravi Kishan) and criminal Pehelwan (Abhimanyu Singh) sets off a promising start to the film despite the apprehensions one may have had about it. Pehelwan escapes from the police encounter strategised by the politician, and his own patron, Bhanumati, gets shot and lands up in the shelter of the Aghoris. An encounter with Damru aka Mauni Baba (Pankaj Tripathi) makes him don a new baba garb to begin conning the gullible, vulnerable masses. It’s the tale of a convict’s new birth into babadom.

Global Baba is a biting recreation of the world of god men, perfectly well-timed considering the goings-on around us these days. How easy is it to perform miracles and build cults overnight, how the babas are emerging as the alternate power centres. These are the babas who are so cash rich that they could even offer loans to Swiss banks. Instead of teaching scriptures they ensure a short cut to heaven to their beleaguered followers. Of late there have been several Hindi films dealing with god men, superstition and blind faith. Global Baba takes the narrative a step forward to look at the more sinister side of it—the deadly mix of crime, politics and religion and how it is ruining the country. In the midst of it, the media also gets coopted and becomes a conduit needlessly, also at times voluntarily.

There are some obvious farcical touches, some pat representations like Bhanumati but the film nails down the Hindi heartland politics rather well. The killings interspersed with the frenzy of Ganga arti at the Dashashwamedh ghat hits a strong point home. The dialogue is punchy and catches the nuance of life in and around Varanasi and a dependable set of actors, led by Pankaj Tripathi, adds to the punch. Watch out for the take on alpasankhyak tushtikaran (appeasement of the minorities) and bahusankhyakon ka mel (The coming together of the majoritarians) and you know the film has emerged from and is of, by and for the grassroots. It is made by someone who has seen the world up close and personal.

Yes it is visibly rough in its story-telling, technique and texture. There might be a lack of cinematic sophistication and craft and far too many issues—land encroachment, tribal rights—grappling for space topped with a rather preachy speech from the logical, practical Bhola Pandit (Sanjay Mishra). However, the chaos on screen is an apt reflection of the anarchy that is the reality. Despite the shrillness and breathlessness of action it deals with a significant issue in all seriousness. A film that might be loud but does talk sense.

P.S. Global Baba would also go down as a rare Hindi film showing the humble, homely food of Bihar—the litti chokha—in all its yummy glory. I was left craving for some.

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Printable version | Jul 22, 2021 11:15:03 AM |

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