A bunch of talented actors - Abhimanyu Singh, Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, Akhilendra Mishra and even Ravi Kissen - come together for a satire on the 'Baba culture'. A film that is sometimes sharp but mostly overdone. Perfect timing for a movie, what with a colossal 'global cultural festival' being conducted by a spiritual baba at the cost of the environment...
If this film weren't so garish and in your face, it would have been a sharp commentary about scammy Babajis, their political machinations and a host of stupid 'followers'. We have loved Oh My God where Paresh Rawal gave us a memorable, witty Kanjibhai who sues God. Aamir Khan's PK mirrored the problem of people blindly following Gods and godmen. We have seen our political leaders fall at the feet of Godmen, win elections on the platform that they will build temples and establish superiority of one religion by razing the place of worship of another. We spend thousands on pilgrimages and offer hard earned money because we invest in a supposed 'afterlife'.
The filmmakers may not know it, but the timing of this release is perfect. A spiritual baba with millions of followers will be hosting a 'Global Cultural Festival' on the banks of the Yamuna, building parking lots and stage on the river with no regard for the environment and with the consent of god-fearing politicians...
The story of this movie takes off very rapidly. We see a police officer trapping a criminal in an 'encounter' situation who escapes (but of course!) and is helped by babas downstream. His associate has figured out that religion is the business to be in. And they get into the 'baba' business and soon put everyone else out of business.
My trouble with the movie starts here. The two do not seem to have a brain between them, and yet they figure out a con that expands and expands and expands. They look more like someone's henchmen. So for them to have figured out this con seems to be very unlikely. It needs a team to run a spiritual foundation.
But there are less sophisticated babas whose ashrams are not 'designer minimalistic yoga retreats' but full of marigold and color and bhajans and chanting.
The filmmakers choose the latter and show us all possible cliches. The maroon robes for certified bhakts, scantily dressed massage ladies headed by a Bollywood gay bhakt, the money counting machines, shady gun deals for the Defence Minister (no less!), milk and rose petal baths for Global Baba even darshan lines organised. If you can look beyond some of them (I groaned, others gagged) the story is actually quite clever.
The exchange between Police Chief Jacob and Global Baba starts out with a 'catch me if you can' and ends menacingly with, 'The animal people of your faith eat is sacred to us. Imagine what will happen to the fragile peace which holds the community right now, should I choose to make a little speech about it?'
There's lots of ugly flotsam and jetsam in the film. How does Global Baba's original associate Damru Baba suddenly turn lecherous? The baby babble and lisp is cute and creepy, but why did they make him lecherous too? Just ugly unnecessity. Why does Bhola Pandit (the ex most-popular baba) give up the fight for being better baba so easily? The journo with a sob story, the creepy double crossing politician make this movie less than Oh My God or even PK.
The why have I given it Two Stars instead of just a One or even a half?
One Star for the best timing ever (I am given to understand that the film went through the censors long time ago), what with the well connected babaji flouting every rule for his cultural fest.
Second is the star for choosing a topic and making you realise that despite news about babajis going to jail for rape, and drugs and lies, people still flock to these ashrams for spiritual guidance. The satire could have been sharper and better written, but then we say that about so many movies... Maybe you will watch it when they play it on tv.