Reviewing the Reviews: Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster

03 Oct,2011

By Deepa Gahlot

Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster

Key cast: Randeep Hooda, Jimmy Shergill, Mahie Gill

Written and directed by: Tigmanshu Dhulia

Produced by: Rahul Mittra and Tigmanshu Dhulia


Force may have been the bigger Bollywood release this week, but the community of critics has been almost unanimous in its praise for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster. This does not happen too often, that a dark horse races ahead. The film might actually end up doing well because of the mostly positive reviews and word of mouth. And when awards times come round, Randeep Hooda and Jimmy Shergill can have a bash at the trophies. The film got three stars and above—with just a couple of exceptions—and what can be justifiably defined as a rave.

Shubha Shetty Saha gave it 3 and a half stars, but the review is worth 5. She writes, “Even before the movie begins, you get a good feeling about it. Fortunately, it lives up to that intuition. A crackling script, fantastic direction and amazing performances, this movie almost deserves to be called a classic.”

Mayank Shekhar of The Hindustan Times gives it 3 and half stars, too, and writes, “It’s the page-turner script that steals the show. It’s packed with enough turns, intrigues and twists to hold your attention, keep you guessing. All of it bound by some sort of logic still. At least as much logic as you’d expect from a drama or thriller that doesn’t embarrass your basic intelligence. This doesn’t.”

On, Sheikh Ayaz also gives it 3 and a half stars and writes, “It’s fascinating to see how Dhulia doesn’t succumb to the idea of doing this as an expose film on the hypocrisy that breeds within royal mansions; neither does he develop the crime angle, a move that partially subverts this film’s obvious direction towards the crime genre. Instead, he plays it straight with single-minded focus on the development of his characters and the impact they would have on the plot.”

Aniruddha Guha of DNA goes with 4 stars and says, “While his script is clearly the film’s USP, Dhulia as director does full justice to the written matter, extracting some superb performances, and making a technically polished film. Little embellishments, like the orchestra sound in a raunchy item number, add to the film’s charm.”

Not surprisingly 4 stars also from Nikhat Kazmi of the Times of India, and this time the generous rating may even be justified. “The film may be a finely crafted drama, yet it unfolds with thriller pace, keeping you on the edge of the seat till the very end. Enjoy the experience of a revised and re-mixed story, well told. Tip Off: Don’t like run-of-the-mill stuff? Will surely like this… it’s different.”

Anuj Kumar of The Hindu is a little less effusive. “A master at creating moments, Dhulia’s writing is dipped in wit and the repartees are laced with subtle comments on the changing times and human behaviour… A royal treat where the desserts are a bit disappointing.”

Going against the tide is IBNLive’s Rajeev Masand with his 2 and a half stars and faint criticism. “The film opens intriguingly and maintains an even pace, but it’s betrayed ultimately by a confused script that hobbles around in all directions, never quite finding its rhythm. Dhulia knows the milieu, so the film has an earthiness that is attractive, and much of the dialogue is clever. Yet, key dramatic scenarios are handled amateurishly… Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster is ambitious in its idea, and the dynamics of the relationships between its central characters are nicely handled. But Dhulia slips up in the tiny details.”

Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express gives it 2 stars and slams it. “But for all its frills, some of them nicely executed and attention-grabbing, Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster never quite rises above its familiar plot points, and ultimately stodgy storytelling. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen greedy politicians handing out contracts to greedy contractors bypassing worthy candidates, and the obscenity-laden skirmishes between the warring parties: even the smirks and the gaalis are now standard procedure. The decrepit palace, the decadent ex-royal (Shergill), the dissatisfied wife (Gill), the needy mistress (Narayan) and the faithful retainer, all have had variants before: the actors are skilled only to the level of filling in their characters, but not creating any truly memorable moments.”

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