Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Nargis Fakhri, Dharmesh Yelande
Director: Ravi Jadhav
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Mumbai is a city of undying dreams, passion and zeal. Amidst the glittering glamour, there are countless silent heroes who have their own stories of everyday victory which define the city. Banjo players from the streets of Mumbai are one those artists who give the festivals and celebration of Mumbai their soul.
Banjo gives us a tour of the music that is created on the streets of Mumbai. Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) is a leader of the no. 1 Banjo band of Mumbai and one day, when he is performing at a Ganpati festival, a guy records his music which he finds exceptional and sends it to his friend Christina (Nargis Fakhri) in New York. She loves it and decides to make songs with them. She comes to Mumbai to visit them. This is a story of Taraat & his band and their daily struggles, fights and the honour of true artists.
Banjo’s script is enough for an entertainment kind of film which has fun, fights and songs but for a film that is throwing a light on Mumbai’s banjo players, it is limited. First of all, the script should have taken a holistic view on the culture of banjo music, the process of making the songs and their hardwork, instead it just represents a band and their petty fights. Of course, the fights happen and every player has his own struggle but that is one part of it, not the only part. Why not show the number of hours they put in to get a sync as a band and their modus operandi which make them unique in festivals? This is how you will show the true spirit of them.
The script does talks about the difficult lives they lead and society’s view towards them. It is painfully but rightly shown when the police officer laughs when the band is called artists. The characters are written nicely. Taraat and Grease are thoughtfully created characters.
Image Source: Eros Now
Ravi Jadhav makes a Bollywood debut with Banjo. He has amazing list of Marathi movies on his credit like Natrang, Balak-Palak and Timepass. In case of this film, his reputation states otherwise. Ravi made the film from an entertainment point of view and that’s why it became ordinary. The topic of the film is such that a thorough researched storytelling with a depth in the banjo culture was required. The whole 1st half just shows us some fun goofing around the streets of Mumbai without any hurry whatsoever in covering the ‘music’ angle.
Ravi also focuses more on the fights and stupid love angle between Taraat and Christina. All this time should have been dedicated to banjo practice and their working which would have added a weight to the narrative.
As a director, he does a fine job in developing Taraat’s character. A local banjo player has to be aggressive and brave to combat with the competition and to be street smart. He perfectly manages to portray it. Taraat and Grease actually make the film enjoyable with their bang-on desi punches. Screenplay helps a lot in this context. The dialogues of the band with each other and when they are conversing with the foreign girl Christina are fun. What didn’t work is the character of Christina. She never looked like a musician. Merely having a stylish headphone around your neck doesn’t make you a musician.
Another thing that pains me is the irony that Banjo is a film about street musicians yet the film’s music itself doesn’t match up to that level. The background score was better than the actual songs. The music is not as powerful as you feel while enjoying the festivals. That energy and those beats were missing from the songs.
As much disappointing the story and the direction sound, there is also a shining light in the film and that is Riteish Deshmukh. I have always found Riteish as a decent actor with strength in comedy. But, with Banjo, he has seriously taken giant efforts to impart a genuine performance. His attire and built go well with the character. I loved the way he got immersed into the role. He looks passionate with banjo in his hand and delivers the aggressive leader of the band perfectly.
Nargis Fakhri destroys the film. Apart from a pretty face, she doesn’t justify anything for the film. That dialogue delivery is beyond acceptable and I don’t understand why makers don’t take actual actress for such a crucial role.
Dharmesh Yelande, as we all know, is a professional dancer but as an actor he was impressive too. He doesn’t give you any reason to doubt about his performance in the film. Surprisingly, his quick and funny punches keep the humour quotient of the film up.
Ravi Jadhav makes Banjo a decent watch but it had so many good aspects to explore that making it such a trivial film gives you a big void in the heart. He tried to make it a light hearted entertainment movie which is low in the core culture of banjo music and its methods.