Cast: Annu Kapoor, Om Puri, Satish Kaushik, Adil Hussain, Seema Biswas, Aamir Bashir, Rajni Gujral
Director: Ranjit Kapoor and Bikram Singh Bhullar
A minor incident at the Indo Pak border threatens to escalate. In the fray are soldiers from both sides, shrill media persons, and puffed up politicians, all hell bent upon making things worse.
Good premise for a satire, especially since Ranjit Kapoor, who co-wrote the immortal ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’ is at the helm. But ‘Jai Ho Democracy’ declares itself to be a dud right from the opening, because of the sheer ineptness and flatness of execution.
The film switches between three locations. Arrayed on either side of the Line Of Control are the Indians and the Pakistanis, who were once ‘bhai-bhai’ and are now ‘jaani dushmans’. In TV newsrooms in the Capital are reporters and anchors revving it up for no reason other than those dreaded TRPs. And in the same city, there is a committee full of nincompoop ‘netas’ of all kinds—rightwing, leftwing, but mostly witless—coming to blows.
Regional accents become the pivot of comedy: Kapoor as a South Indian, Puri as the creaky North Indian, Hussain as the loud ex-soldier from the North East, Gujral as the ‘gori chitti’ Punjaban. The antics of these characters make way for The Media making fools of themselves, and a couple of soldiers from either side—a young Indian complete with a teary mother, and a grizzled, bearded one from the other side– discovering, oh-so-predictably, ‘jhappiyaan-te-pappiyaan’ commonalities.
Satire needs nuance: ‘Jai Ho Democracy’ drowns in obviousness. This, coming from Ranjit Kapoor, is a disappointment. The intention is fine, but the treatment is far from. And it criminally wastes an array of good actors: Kapoor, Puri, Hussain, Biswas, Bashir raise their decibel with zero impact. There’s a Mayawati-like character who is made fun of, and we smile, but she’s gone too soon. As is the point of this film.