It is not the best of times for the fictional outposts of Upri and Bairi. The two villages, once part of the same kingdom, are now riven by a long-standing caste conflict. And by the lack of water, the only thing worth more than gold in a place which has run dry, where people use the precious liquid for barter, whether it is the weed-soaked pundit, or the lusty lady of the night.
The crafty Brij Singh Deo (Saurabh Shukla) cooks up an ingenious plan to get the enemy village back into the camp, not for any altruistic reason but to get his meaty paws on all the plentiful water that the `lower-caste’ village has. All his English-speaking son Raj (Kunal Kapoor) has to do is to catch the eye of Jhanvi (Radhika Apte), the lovely daughter of a village elder played by Gulshan Grover. If Raj gets her, water will automatically follow.
Good idea, faulty execution. Using water as a trade commodity is a powerful concept, especially given that there is so much drought and so little accessible clean drinking water in so many parts of India. Livelihoods, and lives, depend upon having water to hand.
And the director knows how to spin a yarn with fable-like qualities, which was so evident in the impactful ‘I Am Kalam’. But ‘Kaun Kitne Paani Mein’ is marred by its plodding pace, heavy melodrama, and a needless vulgar streak.
Which is a pity because not just the idea, but a terrific performance by Saurabh Shukla, gets lost. As an old-time royal, who has no idea how to do anything for himself, whether it is wearing his clothes (if you’ve ever helped a very little child to dress, both uppers and lowers, you will know how this is done) or washing his butt, and how you be entitled yet not all evil, Shukla is spot on.
Too bad the film is not.
Kaun Kitne Paani Mein star cast: Saurabh Shukla, Gulshan Grover, Kunal Kapoor, Radhika Apte
Director : Nila Madhab Panda