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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Ranchi Diaries: Nothing to write about

Ranchi Diaries: Nothing to write about

Some films make you wonder whether their makers have any friends at all, for if they did have any well-wishers, why did they not speak-up and give some honest feedback during the making? You do not need to be a critic to conclude that a film like Ranchi Diaries is terribly flawed, though critics might tell you what are the things patently wrong with it: no coherent screenplay, false Bhojpuri accents, totally exaggerated and over-the-top dialogue, no respect for audiences’ sensibilities, a warped idea about what constitutes comedy and paying respect to earlier classic movies in a manner that would make their fans and makers squirm.

Pinku (Taaha Shah) is a wannabe gangster who runs a food-stall, with his young, wasted hangers on. His friend Manish ‘Monu’ (Himansh Kohli), an engineer turned small-time safe-cracker who has opened a stolen ATM machine, hangs around the joint, thinking up elaborate plans to go to the city with his childhood sweetheart, the local YouTube singing-dancing sensation Gudiya (Soundarya Sharma). Strong-willed, with some talent to match, Gudiya has her own problems in life, the main one being the local politico-mafioso Thakur Bhaiya (Anupam Kher), who has eyes on her. When Thakur's attention gets too much for the small-town ‘Shakira’, she decides to run away with Monu, and give her singing aspirations a shot. But they have no money for the great escape. That's when she plans a bank robbery, with Monu and gang.

A self-confessed fan of Guy Ritchie and Marvel comics, writer-director Sattwik Mohanty places tributes to The Godfather and Ocean’s Eleven (hilariously translated as Mahasagar Gyarah). Neither is there any trace of his other passions: sketching and automobile designing. Though he spent quite some time learning film-making basics under names like Anurag Kashyap, Nagesh Kukunoor, Anand Gandhi and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, his debut vehicle betrays no trace of the form or content filmed by the luminaries. What made veteran actor and acting coach Anupam Kher put his faith in this caper as producer as well as actor we’ll never know.

A significant actor in his own right, Jimmy Shergill looks like he was woken up late at night to shoot his five scenes for the movie and was even allowed to sleep at the shoot, the siesta hurriedly built into the story as a car nap. Kher himself just about manages to look sane. Soundarya (Meruthiya Gangsters) has cute dimples and a bit of verve, but that’s about it. Himansh Kohli (Abhi Nahi Toh Kabhi Nahi, Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, Sweetiee Weds NRI) and Taaha Shah Badusha (Luv Ka The End, Gippi, Barkhaa, Baar Baar Dekho) are loud and pretentious. Pitobash Tripathy (I Am Kalam, Shor in the City, Shanghai, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara, Mom) looks his part of a Naxalite, in a very poorly delineated role. Another colossal waste is Satish Kaushik as the pot-bellied cop.

Ranchi is a hilly capital of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. You might want to visit the place as a tourist, some time. Do not let these Diaries deter you. I only hope the southward dip made by this misplaced adventure called Ranchi Diaries becomes a learning blip in the career graphs of all concerned, for they can only go northwards from here. They should. They must!

Rating: *




About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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