For many weeks, the anti-corruption campaign grabbed premium space in newspapers last year. And in times when movies often seem to be chasing yesterday’s headlines, a feature film on corruption faced by the aam aadmi is on rather expected lines. It is no surprise, therefore, that the hero in Gali Gali Chor Hai is named Bharat – his travails symbolizing all that a common man endures in a country ruled by wicked politicians and crooked cops.
Director Rumy Jafry, better known as the writer of box-office winners such as Golmaal Returns, Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan, Hero No 1 and many more, takes recourse to satire to show how a simple middle-class family can be forced to make the rounds of the police station and the court if it ends up on the wrong side of the powerful.
The movie, which was shown to Anna Hazare at a special screening, starts off promisingly with the pro-activist title-track sung by Kailash Kher and there is some fizz in the initial exchanges between Bharat and his father (Satish Kaushik) and the local politicians-cum-goons.
But soon the movie loses its comic timing. Bharat’s playing Hanuman in the local Ramleela becomes a diversion from the main plot. So does the character played by Mugdha Godse, a hottie paying guest at Bharat’s home who ends up creating a rift between Bharat and wife ( Shriya Saran). Even the impressive supporting cast Satish Kaushik and Annu Kapoor, who relishes the part of a corrupt havaldar, fail to rise above the script’s mediocrity.
Akshaye Khanna returns after a hiatus with plenty of hair on his head and lots of earnestness on his face. You like him – as perhaps Anna would — when he delivers a stinging slap each to the crooked cop and the scheming politico. Shriya neatly fits into the part of a small-town housewife, in the process offering the rare sight of a new Bollywood heroine dressed in a maxi, the shapeless morning attire of millions of middle-class women across small-town India. And Veena Malik does her bit to improve Indo-Pak relations in the item track, Mehngi hui hai angraee, jab se Chhanno hai khirki pe aayee (music: Anu Malik).
But in the end, Gali Gali Chor Hai doesn’t live up to its promise. Just like the anti-corruption movement at the moment.
A politician wants a room in the home of bank cashier Bharat (Akshaye Khanna) to set up his election office in a Bhopal locality. When the latter refuses, he influences the cops to harass him in a rather bizarre manner: Bharat must bribe the police to get back a table fan that was allegedly stolen from his house years ago.