Reviewing the Reviews: Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns

11 Mar,2013

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns

Key Cast: Jimmy Sheirgill, Mahie Gill, Irrfan Khan, Soha Ali Khan

Directed By: Tigmanshu Dhulia

Written By: Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sanjay Chauhan

Produced By: Tigmanshu Dhulia, Rahul Mittra, Nitin Tej Ahuja


From wild 4-star enthusiasm to mild 3-star disappointment, reviews of Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns seem to have been more on the positive side. Almost all critics found it losing steam mid-way, deplored the item number, but admired the dialogue and adored Irrfan.


Tigmanshu Dhulia is an interesting, original filmaker, who came into his own mid-career with Paan Singh Tomar and the original Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, which was a clever retake on the Guru Dutt-Abrar Alvi classic. Part two is all his own


Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times wrote, “But you can have too much of a good thing. Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns just becomes more and more overwrought and, eventually, unconvincing. The plot contortions stop feeling organic and start to feel forced, as though Tigmanshu were simply moving pawns on a chessboard. The film’s length starts to weigh on you; an unnecessary item song doesn’t help. By the end, I was no longer enthralled by the many twists. I was exhausted. Which is a shame, because there is much to be enjoyed here.”


Rajeev Masand of IBNLive commented, “With Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, director Tigmanshu Dhulia delivers another earthy cocktail of power games, bedroom politics, and palace intrigue. Only the stakes are higher in this sequel; the love is tainted from the start, and there’s even vengeance thrown in for good measure. Indeed the film is gripping for the most part, if you’re willing to overlook some convoluted stretches.”


Raja Sen of gushed, “The new film is much sharper, more assured, and, unencumbered by a classic to stand beside, a far better film. Like the crooners aware of which guests to keep away from the tipple and the aides who wait till the master’s lips touch drink before letting their own, it is clear Tigmanshu Dhulia knows what he’s doing. It has, in fact, never been clearer. Which itself is worth drinking to. Besides, how could one resist a film where even drawers opening and closing sound like guns being cocked?”


Karan Anshuman of The Mumbai Mirror was very impressed too: “Sequels. Always tricky. Rare is the second instalment that surpasses the original. And Bollywood has a particularly dismal record. So expectations were strictly under check for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s grammatically suspect Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns. But it’s the director who returns with aplomb. Keeping much of the original’s spirit intact, even surpassing it in many ways. It is not critical to recall or have seen the prequel. The story does continue, but the reward for a viewer who encounters these characters and the setting for the first time will perhaps be even greater.”


Madhureeta Mukherjee of the Times of India commented, “Tigmanshu Dhulia has created an intriguing world with rajas fighting for their kingship; politicians watching porn, gangsters sleeping with the enemy, and women unapologetic about adultery in the ballroom and bedroom. The setting and story is vibrant, dramatic, dark and humourous at the same time. Once again, he scores with his characters – intelligently sketched, with dichotomous layers – dark, brooding, loving and lustful. The editing and the screenplay in the second half lose steam, and the item number (courtesy Mughda Godse) punctures the pace. The climax passively surrenders without the satiating feel of bittersweet revenge.”


Saibal Chatterjee found much to commend it for. “Flush with vibrant colours and cinematic flourishes, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns is a riveting and buoyant film that, despite being nearly two and a half hours long, manages to keep the viewer interested in the strange, strange ways of men and women bent upon pressing the self-destruct button. The dramatic narrative core of the film is suffused with a delirious quality that is both delightful and disorienting. The film has many wonderfully written sequences followed by stray moments that aren’t that convincing. But the dialogues, penned by director and scriptwriter Tigmanshu Dhulia himself, are never less than sparkling.”


Shubhra Gupta quite rightly pointed out, “The ‘return’ is a better film, but it stops short of being excellent. The smooth build-up in the first half leads to a confused, too-crowded second, which lets the film, and us, down. But while the going is good, it is all most gripping.”


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