by Noyon Jyoti Parasara
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Vidya Balan, Pankaj Kapur, Tusshar Kapoor and a host of other stars
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
Producer: Abdol Samee Siddiqui
Music director: Sukhwinder Singh
While the box-office is ruled by entertainers like Welcome, Om Shanti Om and Heyy Babyy, message-based films do come in once and create some space for themselves. While some of these like Rang De Basanti, Chak De!India and Taare Zameen Par have gone on to etch an indelible mark in the audiences' consciousness, some just come and refresh people's minds and wilt away. Halla Bol, with a strong appeal to people to rise against injustice, would probably fall into the second category – the ones that create a ripple, but fade away soon.
Halla Bol is a strong story. It's about an actor Samir Khan, who from being a small town guy attains enormous popularity in his profession. And with stardom, Samir undergoes massive changes in his character too. He demands more screen time than other actors, bitches about them, practices casting couch and has extra-marital affairs. But Samir is jolted out of his stupor when he witnesses a girl being murdered. His conscience gets better of him and he resolves to get justice for the victim. But the villains are strong and powerful and Samir ends up losing almost everything he had – from career to family- as he fights for the cause. But when the administration as well as the Judiciary gives away, he resorts to the power of the people to give strength to his fight. Hence the outcry Halla Bol meaning 'raise your voice'. The medium of street theatre is glorified and shown as a very powerful tool in the movie and to good effect.
Despite the fundamental story being strong (probably the best thing about the whole movie), it falters in the script. There is an inflow of too many emotions, thereby making it too filmy. That surely doesn't help the cause of a hard hitting theme. There is an ample amount of humour though brought in by different characters at various points. The dialogues help the film to a large extent. The story is made interesting by giving several aspects to Samir Khan's character (things which we have known about various popular actors from time to time) – be it cutting roles of colleagues or verbal bashing of politicians.
Technically, the film stoops low with standard photography. There is an attempt to give it a newsy look in some scenes, but that only makes you go dizzy. The lighting is bad at places and you see light flickering in certain scenes. There is also a hazy feel, which indicates that the film has not gone through any DI. All these add up to give you a feel that it's an old film and was stuck for a long time. The background score is, however, good even though the playback music might not really be as pleasant. The movie might have done better with more work on it but that would have delayed it further!
Performance wise, Ajay Devgan is a misfit. This role was probably more suited for any of the three Khans. Ajay didn't really carry off the superstar tag and the narcissism that was required along with it. The scene where he is making love to a wannabe heroine is badly done and Ajay is not convincing at all. Vidya Balan, though efficient in a small role, is brought in and out at the director's disposal. Darshan Jariwala again has come up with a decent performance, except at times when he tries acting funny and ends up looking like a clown. But the best of the pack is certainly Pankaj Kapur, who once again comes up with a sterling performance, looking every bit the strong man he is supposed to look.
Overall, Rajkumar Santoshi's Halla Bol lacks the desired punch. Loopholes in the script make the film too loud and yet one which would not occupy your mind for more than an hour before fizzling out.
PS: Tusshar Kapoor's two-minute performance looks more convincing than most of his previous movies. He is best remembered for his role in Khakee, which again was a Rajkumar Santoshi film!