‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’ review: The intention is right, the execution is not

Batti Gul Meter Chalu

Director: Shree Narayan Singh

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Divyendu Sharma, Yami Gautam

Rating: **1/2

Director Shree Narayan Singh raises a pertinent issue with this film. Lack of basic amenities is still plaguing more than half the country and corruption and apathy is only making it worse. Singh chooses to talk about one state Uttarakhand and its grappling problems with electricity to get his point across.

Singh’s main protagonists are three friends; Nauti aka Lalita (Shraddha Kapoor), Sunder Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma) and Sushil aka SK (Shahid Kapoor) based in a small town in Uttarakhand. While Nauti is a self-styled fashion designer, Sunder is aspiring to be an entrepreneur. Street savvy SK is a lawyer and he makes his money through unfair means. The three friends are so into each other that they spend most of their days and nights with each other. Their town is struggling with lack of electricity for most part of the day, and the frustration is building up. The final straw comes in the form of a criminally exorbitant electricity bill of Rs 54 lakh sent to Tripathi, who’s just about set up a factory. Despair and frustration leads to Tripathi taking into an extreme step, which snowballs into a country wide protest led by SK against the electrical company.

The intention is right, the execution surely is not. The film which runs for three hours short of five minutes, is so slow and self indulgent that it becomes excruciatingly boring. Perhaps because it is edited by the director himself, there is no check on the flow of the film, and the movie goes on for too long. The story is stretched one hour too long.

The initial camaraderie between the three thick friends, Nauti, Sunder and SK is fun to watch but after a point the narration becomes overbearing as you are served with every detail and explained every tiny thing in the story, thus leaving very little to imagination (Screenplay by Vipul K Rawal, Siddhartha Singh and Garima Wahal). The breath-taking locales of Uttarakhand makes the slow scenes a little more bearable than they are (cinematography by Anshuman Mahaley), but the introduction of some words from the local Uttarakhand dialect seem too forced.

Shahid Kapoor as the brash money minded advocate who later turns repentant for his own actions, is pretty good, even though he does go overboard in one or two scenes. Shraddha is sincere and does a decent job. However, she has made little effort to change her appearance or body language to fit into the role of a small town girl. Divyendu has a one dimensional role of a good boy and he manages to do a good job of it. Yami Gautam as Gulnar, the defence lawyer appointed by the electrical company that SK is fighting against, seems to be introduced more for the glamorous quotient than anything else.

While the film might be about a very real issue that the country faces, and the film-maker might have a noble intention, the flawed narration stops it from being as effective as it should have been.