Batti Gul Meter Chalu | Film Review

Electricity theft, lack of basic infrastructure, facilities and growing turmoil among the common citizens is a pertinent issue. Director Shree Narayan Singh, whose last film - Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, discussed poor sanitation and lack of hygienic facilities, is back with yet another tale that presents a hard hitting reality. Singh's latest offering - Batti Gul Meter Chalu, is a relevant film which highlights the issue of electricity frauds and scams, without being too preachy or dull. 

Set against the stunning backdrop of Uttarakhand, the film traces the journey of three best friends - Susheel K Pant [Shahid Kapoor], Sundar Tripathi [Divyendu] and Lalita Nautiyal [Shraddha Kapoor]. While Sunder turns entrepreneur with his own factory, Susheel loiters around as a 'corrupt' lawyer, while Lalita aspires to be the ultimate 'Lakmé Fashion Week' designer. The three make merry, and have a gala time, just when a strange twist of fate changes their lives forever. Susheel takes it upon himself to change the course of action, and vows to fight for his best friend against all odds. In a bid to create awareness around electricity frauds and thefts, which becomes one of the prime reasons behind Sundar's ultimate fate, Susheel tackles the issue by discussing similar problems with thousands of locals and organising multiple activities. Ultimately, SK fights the case for his friend in a rather impressive court room drama climax. Will he win the case and bring justice for his friend? For that, you will have to watch the film. And, I strongly suggest you do!

Music of this film deserves a mention, as some of the songs have already created massive buzz before the release, especially Dekhte Dekhte and Gold Tamba (wish the former played a little longer in the film, though). It was an absolute delight to watch Shahid dance on the big screen again, almost after a gap of 2 years. Full marks to Ganesh Acharya for the peppy moves, straight from the 90s, in Gold Tamba. The BG score is decent. Anshuman Mahaley's cinematography captures the real beauty and essence of Uttarakhand; making it one of the strong pillars of BGMC. So much, that one is bound to feel like visiting the beautiful state on their next vacation. Siddharth-Garima and Vipul K Rawal's writing is another strength, with the Kumaoni laced dialogues creating a powerful impact. There are scenes where one just cannot go without whistling or at least, clapping to laud the moment. Of course, a huge part of that credit also goes to the performances, but gotta say - the dialogues were simply incredible. They add an essential charm to the characters and their respective personalities.

Performances, especially by the lead cast, are undoubtedly the strongest pillars of this film. Even the ensemble cast, including Farida Jalal, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Atul Srivastava among others, perform well. However, the film belongs to the lead trio, with Shahid Kapoor clearly dominating the scene. As the meek and humble Sundar, Divyendu Sharma makes a mark. His character becomes the crux of the film's plot, and Sharma does complete justice with an emotionally charged act. Shraddha's Nauti aka Lalita is a quirky and feisty young girl, who believes in justice and provides unconditional support to her partner, throughout the struggle. She performs well in certain emotional scenes, and her chemistry with the duo is really interesting. Yami Gautam makes an important appearance as advocate Gulnaar, and does a fine job.

However, the film [especially the second half] belongs to Susheel Kumar Pant aka Shahid Kapoor. He wonderfully displays myriad emotions - ranging from envy to vengeance, love and misery. If there is anyone who believes that one needs a larger than life character to create an impact, then Kapoor's portrayal of SKP is here to prove you wrong. He adds an extraordinary personality to an otherwise simple [add to that - corrupt], yet flamboyant boy next door. Right from the court room sarcasm to friendly humour and the perfect attitude with which he approaches the authorities at SPTL, Kapoor nails it just right. He shines with an impeccable dialogue delivery (the dialect was on point) and the perfect body language, making it difficult for anyone to believe that he is not a Tehri local for real. Of course, the costumes and his over-zealousness helped add a good flavour to the character. One can't help but marvel at Kapoor's monologue during the climax of this film, which is clearly one of the strongest highlights of BGMC. That scene is bound to walk away with maximum cheers! As an avid cinephile, I could clearly witness glimpses of Senior Kapur sir's impeccable act from 'Ek Ruka Hua Faisla' in Shahid, especially during some of the emotional scenes. Kapoor is the soul of this poignant yet entertaining drama, and his performance is simply effortless!! 

As a viewer, the film pushes you to step out of your comfort zone and look at the world with the POV [point of view] of a citizen, who hasn't lived with the privilege of having electricity 24x7. The story instantly reminded me of Elephanta Caves, a little away from India's financial capital Mumbai, where the locals got 24x7 electricity connection for the first time ever in 2018, almost 70 years after Independence. Conditions get even more miserable for individuals in small towns, who are forced to study and work in poor light and sometimes, end up suffering losses or consequences too. Now, while the social message of saving electricity and creating awareness around the lack of basic facilities available for a majority of the population in India is one of the prime aspects of this film, Batti Gul Meter Chalu also wonderfully explores other facets of life - that of friendship and unrequited love. Susheel, Sunder and Lalita's equation is beautiful, and their friendship makes you wanna call up your BFF gang right away. It also showcases the other side of love, which remains a rather one sided affair. All this, without being too over-dramatic, which certainly helps maintain a good flow of the film and makes it an entertaining watch. Singh does a good job of putting together this delightful film. A special mention for the distinctive narration, which was rather interesting!

Overall, Batti Gul Meter Chalu is engaging and highly entertaining. It comes with the perfect blend of humour, drama and some really strong, poignant moments, while highlighting an important issue that needs immediate attention. The performances and dialogues prove to be the biggest strength, with Kapoor's act being the star of this show. I am definitely adding an extra star, just for that monologue!

Verdict: Highly recommended for it's exemplary performances (with Shahid Kapoor leading the pack) dialogues and the stunning landscape of Uttarakhand!

Have you seen Batti Gul Meter Chalu yet? What are your thoughts on this film?
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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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