Batti Gul Meter Chalu

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Batti Gul Meter Chalu
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BATTI GUL METER CHALU is relevant, but too long and lacks subtlety!

Much like his previous film “TOILET: EK PREM KATHA”, director Shree Narayan Singh harps on a pertinent subject, but scrubs it only at the surface level. But BATTI GUL METER CHALU is able to entertain you and manages to keep you interested in the subject matter despite its long duration. Notwithstanding its imperfections, this one’s a massy entertainer with good intentions, which deserves atleast a watch!

Based in Uttarakhand, Batti Gul Meter Chalu is a social drama drama that focuses on the electricity issues in smaller cities and rural areas. It revolves around the life of three childhood friends living life to the fullest in a small city, whose lives take a turn for the worse after a series of unfortunate events. Batti Gul Meter Chalu starts off as a light hearted film that evolves into a courtroom drama.

Let’s talk about the negatives first. My problem with this film, just like Singh’s last film, is that as an informed audience member, you go in with the expectation of finding a germane issue being raised and dealt with maturely – which is “escalating Electricity bills” in this film. But you feel cheated when all you get is mostly generic entertainment with minimal discussion on the main issue, and that too in broad-strokes.

The other major problem is the length of the film. Long by atleast an hour, but this time, interestingly, it’s in the first half of the film. The writers and director take an immense amount of time in building up to the main issue, probably with the intent of creating a real connect with the characters. But that doesn’t work. A shorter introduction to the characters and a crisper build-up would’ve helped for sure. Thankfully the film gains steam post interval and the courtroom drama in the last hour saves its day, ending the film on a high note.

Having spoken above about the insignificance with which the main issue is treated, my more accepting take is that in a country like ours, only the content which is very easily accessible, will reach a larger audience. So, in a way, that very problem of simplistic treatment becomes the main strength of this film. Atleast, the common people are made aware that there exists such an issue which deeply affects their lives. Especially in the courtroom scenes (which by the way are highly dramatized and totally play it to the gallery) some really important points are raised.

The visual setting of the film is quite authentic, and so is the local Garhwali dialect that is spoken throughout the film. In fact, so impressionable is the dialect, that you’ll end up joking around speaking the words like “THEHRA” and “BAL”, just because they’re used so, so frequently in the film. The music is average and usually acts as an obstruction to the screenplay.

Shahid Kapoor is the show stealer here and holds your rapt attention all the time. He’s intentionally loud, and is absolutely consistent with his dialect and accent throughout the film. Some may say he hams in parts, but I suppose that goes with the larger theme of this mostly melodramatic film. Shraddha Kapoor is good for a change, and she too holds her accent well. Divyendu Sharma too does perfect justice to his role. The supporting cast is mostly caricaturized, but all of them perform aptly.

To sum up, BATTI GUL METER CHALU works because of its noble intent and mostly passable drama. Yes, it’s flawed, way too long and totally theatrical, but still provides decent entertainment with some food for thought. Recommended one-time-watch!

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