Lage Raho Munnabhai Hindi Movie Review
Ekdum jhakaas picture hai, Mamu!
When the promos of Munnabhai MBBS first came on the TV screen in 2003, I thought it would be like any other film. Sanjay Dutt playing a goon, or rather, a bhai again- so, what was the bloody big deal? The film became a huge hit- people just couldn't get enough of Munnabhai, or for that matter, his Jadoo ki Jhappis. So what? People going all gaga over stupid, overrated movies is nothing new or unusual in India- sample (ugh) Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, for instance.
But the weird thing was, while all the other mega hits that year- Koi Mil Gaya, Kal Ho Naa Ho and others- all had their equal share of raves and rants, it was impossible to hear any criticism of Munnabhai. Months passed and yet, no one ever tired of gushing about this film. One mention of the bhai, and people inevitably broke into a wide smile. It became too much for me- and months after the film actually released, I finally saw it on television.
And boy, what a film it was. I chewed on my hat for a month- this wasn't just any other film. And this certainly wasn't just any other bhai. Munnabhai made you laugh and cry indulgently like no other film had in a long time. This was a film with irresistible charm and wit, but most of all, what made it so special and endearing is that in the age of ostentatiously packaged and cleverly designed movies, here was a movie that such a stroke of genius, yet so well- intentioned, with such a pure heart. Munnabhai truly won a place in our hearts. He became an icon, almost a cult phenomenon. Hardly ever before has a central film character become such a great part of our lives and of popular culture.
For all those who have just landed back from Mars, Lage Raho Munnabhai is actually not a sequel- it is, instead a continuation in a series form. So, while our beloved bhai and his sidekick remain, the rest of the characters and the setting change. So out goes ho-hum Gracy singh and in comes a stunning Vidya Balan, while Boman Irani's hilariously eccentric Dr.Asthana is replaced by the roguish and equally wacky Sardar builder Lucky Singh (again played by him).
The film starts off reminiscent of the first film, with a hilarious kidnapping sequence. It turns out that Munna and Circuit- 'divine fools', as director Rajkumar Hirani describes them- now work (read: getting buildings emptied, breaking bones, the works) for builder Lucky Singh, who has this rather unusual fetish for putting up doctored and superimposed photographs of himself along with various famous personalities- from George Bush to Queen Elizabeth.
- Arrey, sir- par aap to America gaye hi nayee!
- Koi baat nahi, Bush to India aaya hoga- White house background se hata kar apni farmhouse laga de.
Anyway, let's move on. Munna's in love with Jhanvi (Vidya Balan), or rather, her voice- as he sits at the seaside everyday in the morning to hear her say in her trademark style- 'Good Morning, Mumbai!' on Worldspace radio (which quite amazingly, can be heard on all radio sets). And now, he has a chance to meet his dream girl, if me manages to win Jhanvi's Mahatma special quiz that takes place the next day, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.
- Aye, Circuit, yeh kal (2nd October) kya hai?
- Dry day hai bhai. Stock kharid ke rakhna hai kya?
Needless to say, the next day, we have 3 professors of history at Munna's place to help him win. It is a joy to see how Munna connects with the audience- every time he would give the right answer, there would be huge, uproarious applause in the hall. Contest (obviously) won, he goes to the Radio station the next day for his interview with Jhanvi. What follows is a side-splitting toilet sequence (without any 'toilet humour') and a cute interview in which Munna 'accidentally' tells Jhanvi that he is a history professor. And pronto- after the interview, Jhanvi asks him to come over to her place, to give a lecture on Gandhi to her 'children'