‘Yes, we can’ and that’s the spirit of the latest “unlikely-hero” at the box office this week. Giving a great opening to the closing month of 2010, “Phas Gaye Re Obama” is a satire piece that tickles as much as it refreshes. Like “Peepli Live” and “Tere Bin Laden”, ” Phas Gaye…” resounds the “small is beautiful” chorus. No stunning cast, no songs to talk of, and no associated big names on or off-screen, Phas Gaye .. works on its own merit.
After a slow-ish beginning, the movie goes fullblast when the bhaisaab(Mishra) in the backwaters of dusty UP discovers that recession (mandi) which has caused even the business of the goons to slow down has its origins in Amreeka (America). The discovery gives birth to a simple and foolproof plan which involves kidnapping a rich NRI for ransom. But destiny has its own sweet plans. The NRI Om Shastri (Rajat Kapoor in a tailormade role) who is the chosen one seems to have financial woes of his own. Back in the US, having suffered a major business setback, Shastri has to pay back $100,000 if he plans to recoup his business. He returns to India to sell off his ancestral property where he gets kidnapped. As soon as it is established that he doesn’t have the money which the desi don is asking for, a new plan is hatched. Then begins the madness which has a method so precise that Om Shastri remarks at one point that the underworld has more honour than the entire American industry. The NRI is shuffled from here to there with each shift from one kidnapper goons to the other the minimum guarantee is raised a notch.
Apart from the scintillating acts from Sanjay Mishra (bhaisaab) and the ever-dependable Rajat Kapoor, there is some marvelous acting from Neha Dhupia (Munni Madam with her ensemble of Karina, Deepika and Rani) who is turning into piece of wonder herself, and then a great act from Amol Gupte(as Dhananjay Singh). Manu Rishi as the gangster sidekick shines through and gets to deliver some of the most hilarious lines and two-liners (albeit in a deadpan tone).
A satire on the system which makes goons out of politicians, where the underworld has more morals than the regular neta and where everyone is burning under the America-induced recession, Phas Gaye Re Obama scores on several fronts. The characterizations are detailed and dialogues funny as well as sharp. In a time when Golmal-isque comedies try to induce laughs by scissors-in-your-butts jokes, Phas Gaye… is a refreshing change. The black and white shades in the movie look genuine yet funny and events engage as they tickle you.
Full marks to director Subhash Kapoor for the finesse with which he handles the subject. The movie has the rustic feel of the UP based movie, yet the screenplay and direction makes sure that it’s not rough around the edges. This 2 hour long story is a laugh riot for most of the part and complete “paisa wasool”.
Phas Gaye Re Obama sparkles without any big stars. A must watch.