By Movie Talkies, 07 November 2008
Saurabh Kabra's directorial debut venture, EMI, is a sweet take on the business of loans: giving, taking and recovery. It definitely suffers from a Munnabhai hangover, and with Sanjay Dutt at the helm of affairs as Sattar bhai, the head of a recovery agency, the similarities are brought into focus quite sharply. As in the Munnabhai series, the dreaded Sattar bhai, undergoes a change of heart and takes to solving the problems of his debtors. He does not leave his business, which is loan recovery, but adds a social service tag to the services that he now offers to his clients and extends to the beleaguered debtors. There is much about the film which is glossed over the finer details of the story specially. But the overall tone and mood of the film is very amiable and very entertaining.
In Sattar bhai, as with Munnabhai, actor Sanjay Dutt flowers as an actor and is the highpoint of the film. The film is eminently watchable and it makes more sense in a certain sort of way than some of the recent mindless comedies that have been flooding the box office.
The underlying social message is not to be missed. The director takes his potshots at banks and other financial institutions and their equally unethical ways, as also the defaulters, who never bother to read the fine print, as also the many not so hapless, who use loans to further their lifestyles. The film, thankfully, does not make any comments on whether one should take loans and credit cards or not, but instead concentrates on the dubious means used by banks to recover them. The script has its problems. Also, the director tends to get into too many territories without giving much thought to the 'whys and hows.' All problems are resolved at the end, like in all good Hindi films, but how, we are not quite sure. Hence, there is a lot about EMI which needs to be taken with a little bit of salt, peppered with a lot of indulgence as well. Despite all these loose strings in the script, the film still works because of the manner in which the character of Sattar bhai is presented. It becomes as much a film about him, as about the EMIs. All in a lighthearted manner, of course.
The film's story is about a disparate group of people who take loans from the Indian Bank and for some reason or the other, are unable to pay back their dues. The scene is then set for the entry of the dreaded recovery agents. There is the young couple, played by Ashish Chowdhury and Neha Uberoi, who take on a car loan, a home loan, a honeymoon loan and a computer loan, so that they can get married. Unfortunately, their marriage does not last long and soon enough they are fighting over a divorce. But their EMI payments suffer and Sattar bhai enters their lives with his band of recovery agents. The second story is about a middle aged character played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda, who takes a loan to help his son go abroad for his MBA. The son turns out to be a looser, who would rather amble through life without doing anything constructive and leaves the whole burden of repaying the loan on his old father. The third character is the most interesting. It is that of a conman, played by Arjun Rampal. A DJ by profession, his passion is to blow up money on his credit cards and he has several of them. His problem arise when he falls for Malaika Arora Khan's character, who helps him to blow up his money on drinks, jewellery and the other fine things of life before dumping him.
The final story is that of the character played by Urmila Matondkar. It is the least developed despite being given so much screen space. Her husband commits suicide and she wants to claim the two crore insurance money. But she can only get it if it is proved that her husband was murdered or had an accidental death. She is fighting a loosing battle in court and with the cops when she is approached by the many middlemen and asked to get in touch with a certain bhai, who will turn the case in her favour by having one of his men owning up to killing her husband in court. She takes a loan to pay the bhai but unfortunately he pops it. In one shot, she loses her money, her chance of grabbing the insurance kitty, and to top it, also has to now repay the loan she had taken.
All characters head to Sattar bhai's office. The man wants to desperately get into politics and then social service. But he is advised by all to learn to respect people and help him, which, they say, would help in erasing his dubious reputation and ultimately help him in becoming a politician. Hence, when these characters are ushered into his presence, he finds himself drawn into their lives and helps them to get their lives back on track. As for Urmila's character, he helps her as he falls in love with her. Needless to say, Sattar's bhai reputation is transformed and he fulfills his dream of becoming a politician, but only after he takes care of the aam janta.
The music by the young Chirantan Bhatt fits the mood and tone of the film. The composer proves his versatility by providing a fitting song for every situation in the film. The highlights are definitely the playful 'Chori Chori' sung by Sunidhi Chauhan and Suzan and Mohit Chauhan's soulful solo, 'Ankhon Hi Ankhon Mein.'
The film's dialogues are very 'Bambaiya' and contemporary in nature. They could have, however, been a little punchier in places. The director does a good job in executing his script on screen. But he bungles in the way in which he ventures into so many territories and resolves them very unrealistically. Also, his hangover with Sanjay Dutt as Munnabhai seems to be the quite the driving force behind this film, or so one feels.
EMI has some very consistent and good performances by the entire cast, major and minor. Sanjay Dutt has a role which is tailormade for him. It fits him to a tee and he flourishes in his portrayal of Sattar bhai. One would have loved to see this film as his first release, ahead of Kidnap, where he looks so disinterested. He is at ease and tries to infuse the character with some semblance of novelty. His dinner sequence with Urmila's character is quite outstanding, in the manner in which he plays it. Urmila plays her character competently enough. Ashish Chowdhary shows his flair for comedy and leaves an impact with his performance. Neha Uberoi is okay. Manoj Joshi is very good as Sattar's sidekick, Decent. Maliaka sizzles as she is supposed to do. However, there is not much that can be said about her acting. After Sanjay, the other highlight of the film is Arjun Rampal. He is fantastic as the conman, Ryan. He has presence, talent and finally, lady luck on his side, as well.
EMI is a film, which can be called a fun film, without being mindless and brainless. It stays rooted to reality and is quite successful in taking a light look at the serious business of loans.