200 Halla Ho review: Though a torpid screenplay fails the subject of the movie, veteran actor Amol Palekar stays committed to the character of a retired Dalit judge. He brings some profundity to a film that lacks depth.
200 Halla Ho cast: Amol Palekar, Rinku Rajguru, Barun Sobti, Saloni Batra, Sahil Khattar, Sushama Deshpande
200 Halla Ho director: Sarthak Dasgupta
ZEE5’s latest offering 200 Halla Ho is a kind of a film that might leave you with many thoughts, but you still wish it was better. It opens with a group of women running out of the courtroom in Nagpur after slaughtering the man who has molested them for over a decade, and the police watch them go. Soon, the identity of these women is revealed, no, not their names and addresses, but their caste — Dalits, thus making them the culprits without a trial.
There have been very few mainstream Dalit characters and stories in over 100 years of Indian cinema. As actor Amol Palekar puts it, “Art, especially cinema, conveniently and systematically keeps these unsettling themes away.” But 200 Halla Ho attempts to highlight the issue of caste discrimination in society and also taps into issues of patriarchy, and privilege. It knows what it is exploring is true. Full marks for attempting a bold subject. But there are moments where the film loses track of the story’s core feelings, despair and outrage as director Sarthak Dasgupta fails to put the old adage of “Show, Don’t Tell” into practice.
“Tum nahi samajh sakte Dalit hona kya hota hai (You will never know what it is to be a Dalit in our society)” and “Main kyun na bolun main Dalit hun, jab ye samaj humein roz yaad dilaata ki main Dalit hun?” (Why shouldn’t I talk about my caste, when we are reminded of it at every instance)” says Rinku Rajguru’s character Asha, a girl trying to bring justice to the oppressed women, at different points in the film. Undoubtedly, these are some heavy-duty dialogues, aimed at moving the viewers to the core, but wouldn’t it be better if we could see what really is it to be a Dalit than the expository dialogues.
There’s a lot of wasted motion when the script introduces a fact-finding commission, headed by retired judge Dangle (Palekar). And, it is when the story careens towards a court trial that it becomes the least engaging. Court proceedings, which glue the viewers to the screens even in badly scripted dramas, are marred by monologues by Palekar here.
Though a torpid screenplay fails the subject of the movie, veteran actor Amol Palekar stays committed to the character of a retired Dalit judge. He brings some profundity to a film that lacks depth. Besides him, Rinku Rajguru, Barun Sobti and Saloni Batra don’t contribute enough and lack the impact. Barun’s mellowed portrayal as a defence lawyer made courtroom scenes look dull. Not that an overdramatised version would have helped, but he could have tried to bring in some realism to his character. Similarly, Rinku, who has delivered a strong performance in Marathi drama Sairat, looks a tad demotivated here for someone who is leading the movement of 200 tormented women. Saloni Batra, after a strong portrayal of a police officer in the Netflix film Soni, holds a blank expression while reporting a cold-blooded murder.
What could have been a gut-wrenching vigilante thriller, ends up being a chaotic yawn-fest.
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