Lage Raho Munna Bhai

There's always a risk that a director takes when deciding to embark on creating a sequel especially when the original has done well either commercially or critically. A sequel can continue a story or it can start a new chapter in a protagonist's life, but whatever it does, it better be good, and Lage Raho Munna Bhai does not disappoint.

With no preconceived notions, as I have yet to see the original (which seems to be my trend), I have to say that director Rajkumar Hirani has done a wonderful job of blending humour and a little romance with a very clear message that remains more heartwarming than preachy. He very effectively combines a very fresh script, excellent direction and editing, and music while getting perfect performances from his actors. While the central motivating force for the plot is a typical Bollywood love story, the actual theme of the film is far deeper. The Gandhi angle could be a controversial topic for any movie, especially those proclaiming to be comedies, but in this film it helps in terms of the story and gives movement to the scenes.

This is by far the funniest hindi film I've seen to date - much better than the brainless Golmaal Returns. Up until now, I would have said Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan were my favorite Bollywood male jodi. Arshan Warsi and Sanjay Dutt may have successfully taken their place. Who'd have thought two gun wielding, kidnapping, professional "movers" like Munna and Circuit would prove to be thugs with a lot of heart. The pair's interactions could rival those of any comedy duo before them, from their drunken exchanges in and around Samjho ho hi gaya to their heartbreaking fight and touching reunion on the bridge.

In Sanjay Dutt lives the character of Munna. His is a wonderful, larger-than-life performance and he knows just how to present Munna best. Does he seem just a little too old and mismatched as Jhanvi's suitor? Probably, but it's certainly endearing watching Munna try to woo and win over her heart with all of his bumbling, awkward ways. His interactions with Ghandiji and subsequent on-air Gandhigiri are really what gives his character the soul that ends up leaving a lasting impression on you. Watching Sanju's tour de force is one of LRMB's greatest pleasures.

One cannot be part of a double act alone. Arshad Warsi is simply superb as Munna's best friend and sidekick Circuit. There are very few actors who have an unmatched timing for comic scenes and Arshad ranks prominently in the list. Even the slightest smirk or an exclamation makes you flex your facial muscles. There's no denying that he matches up to Sanju at every level, in every sequence, and even sometimes passes him. Even though this was the first film I've seen Arshad in, this movie guaranteed that it will not be the last.

Boman Irani proves again that he is an actor with an infinite range. As the conniving person who wants to usurp the 2nd Innings House, he is simply outstanding. Though the antagonist in this film, Lucky Singh's character is still multi-layered, stealthily evil yet good in his own way, with an infectious roguish charm and sincerity that comes through, especially when dealing with his daughter. His reaction to Munna's inspiring "Get Well" campaign is both hilarious and indicitive of things to come.

While her character isn't given much depth, Vidya Balan does a commendable job as Jhanvi, the radio disc jockey that Munna falls in love with. One could certainly see why Munna would have been captivated right off the hop by her voice, and enraptured soon after by her winning smile. The rest of the supporting cast, from Jimmy Shergill and Dia Mirza to the gang at 2nd Innings House, do well in their brief roles. I was surprised and delighted to see Abhishek Bachchan in a cameo towards the end.

I am not familiar with any other body of his work, but in this film Shantanu Moitra has done a wonderful job. Each song is not only picturized perfectly, but each has a completely different, feel to them. I don't usually mention each song in a film, but for once I don't think there is a single song on the soundtrack that isn't instantly catchy or memorable. Lage Raho Munna Bhai is my favorite just because of it's simplistic nature I think. How can you not whistle and sing along? Samjho ho hi gaya takes the prize for best situational song, plus it's funny as hell! Aane char aane lends the movie a Caribbean feel, whereas Pal pal..har pal almost sounds more European in nature (maybe a little Greek or Italian sounding). Even the more patriotic song Bande mein tha dum...Vande mataram is lovely, but with Sonu singing, how could you not like it?

Every once in a while, there comes a movie which makes you feel good about yourself and suddenly the possibility that we can all be better human beings becomes real. Lage Raho Munna Bhai is a film about finding the inner Gandhi in all of us, and that's something that transcends race, creed or social status. My only critique with this film is that it took me way to long to actually watch it! I can not wait to see what trouble Munna and Circuit get into next in Munnabhai Chale Amerika!

4 Response to "Lage Raho Munna Bhai"

  1. Jules says:
    August 4, 2009 at 10:59 PM

    I actually found myself going all Gandhigiri immediately after watching this film too. I even started preaching it to N... well, on a 3 year old level. I thought this film was really sweet and had a really nice message with it. Loved the music from it too.

    There were lots of little sub-messages in this film too, like how love is ageless and you're never too old to do the dream and have fun. All good stuff!!

  2. bollywooddeewana says:
    August 5, 2009 at 3:41 AM

    Loved this film too, a rewatch is due though, its one of those films to watch again and again

  3. shell says:
    August 5, 2009 at 7:04 AM

    @ Jules - I never really thought of all the other little messages in it, but you are right.

    @ bollywooddeewana - I totally agree. I watched it by myself and then watched it again only a week later with my sis. I see it being one of those that I'll still remember years after. Bow I've just got to watch the first one.

  4. Anonymous Says:
    August 5, 2009 at 8:11 PM

    Have you seen Parineeta? Shantanu Moitra's music is superb. Saif Ali Khan and Vidya Balan have done a good job. In fact it is Vidya's first movie but you can see what a fine actress she is. I would strongly recommend Parineeta.