Yeh Saali Zindagi: One Helluva Gripping Life!!
By MovieTalkies.com, 04 February 2011
A master returns. In 'Yeh Saali Zindagi', ace director Sudhir Mishra casts an enticing net of tangled lives that unfolds at a startling pace, one that calls upon the audience to keep up with the numerous stories and the wacky zingers that the film throws its way.
While there are simply too many characters here for the plot to really revolve around any of them, the story is mostly about Arun, a crafty money manager for a fixer called Mehta in Delhi's power circles, who is obsessed with Priti, a lounge singer who he meets by chance. Priti, though, is involved with Shyam, a business tycoon's son who is engaged to a minister's daughter.
There's also Kuldeep, a career criminal, who is looking to get out of the business after scoring the one big hand, so that he can leave behind the 'lafanga' life and save his marriage to Shanti, who's had it with his frequent trips to jail. In between, there's also the tussle for power between two zany gangster brothers, the incarcerated 'Bade' and the wacky 'Chotte', that is being intermediated by Kuldeep's big bro Satbeer, a crooked 'policiya', looking to setup his 'retirement fund'.
The paths of all these characters collide in a kidnapping gone awry, when Kuldeep kidnaps Shyam with Priti, instead of the minister's daughter as he had planned. Arun, of course, jumps into the fray, to save his lady love.
The film flows chronologically in reverse, with Irrfan, as Arun, narrating the film from its opening scene of a shootout at Mumbai's Bhaucha Dhakka. Irrfan's voiceover takes us through the story of how the story came to such a juncture, introducing us and leading us through the lives of each of the characters.
The star of the film is the script and the story itself. Mishra takes great care in developing his characters, showing the dark side of the hard life. So, we see gangsters here attending their children's school meetings in the midst of a job, tycoons making matches for financial gains and fixers brushing off the painful touch of power by saying 'yeh toh hota hi rehta hai.'
But, don't you dare mistake this one for a dark drama. Instead, what Mishra crafts here is a curvy black comedy, finding wit in the bro kill bro action of the dons, the money manager arm twisting a minister into doing his bidding, a dead man beset by post mortem stomach gas and the bona fide variety show of sorts that the gangster's collection of henchmen put on.
Manu Rishi, of 'Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!', partners with Mishra to pen the dialogues for the film, all peppered with a host of expletives, giving us more of the zany one liners that he is fast gaining a reputation for, each of which will have the audience in splits.
Irrfan is perfectly cast as the con artist of a money manager in Arun. Controlled in moments of drama, frenetic in his moments of wit, Khan comes out all guns blazing here. Though Chitrangda plays up Priti to her alluring best and is effective in her portrayal of a woman in the throes of desperation, Irrfan's most able support is Saurabh Shukla, as the ribald and hilarious Mehta, who goes toe to toe with Khan in every scene they share.
Arunoday is the other star of the film, choosing to play his 'gunda' Kuldeep with equal parts of charisma and vulnerability, torn between his criminal life and keeping his family together. Though Aditi Rao as Shanti doesn't have too many scenes to play up in, she manages herself with charm. Yashpal Sharma, Prashant Narayanan and Sushant Sharma as 'Bade', 'Chhote' and 'Satbeer', are all uniformly good and back up the leads quite ably, while model Vipul Gupta as Shyam is okay.
Nishat Khan and Swanand Kirkire team up on the music side, constructing a score that adds a great deal of weight to the film in crucial sequences. The 'qawwali' flowing through the old Delhi scenes and the track 'sararara' deserve special mention here. The two, three versions of the title track, 'yeh saali zindagi', used throughout the film also set the atmosphere for quite a few scenes.
Though some might think Sudhir Mishra has overpopulated his film, with simply too many characters to follow, the ace director wraps them all up in a script tight enough to hold the audience in its mesmerising grasp. For its wit, its humour, its darkness and its performances, 'Yeh Saali Zindagi' is a must watch.