S. K. (Shahid Kapoor), Nauti (Shraddha Kapoor) and Tripathy (Divyendu Sharma) are three childhood friends living in the state of Uttarakhand. S. K. is a street-smart lawyer who dupes businessmen and blackmails them into paying him a substantial amount in order to ensure his silence. Nauti is a designer who runs a boutique of her own. Things are all peachy until Tripathy opens a printing press, which initially runs fine but is later marred by the hefty amount of electric bills generated by a private electric company named SPTL. On the other hand, a love triangle triggers among the three friends and both the boys find themselves at loggerheads with each other. One fine day, Tripathy receives a letter from the local electric supplier that his last month bill amounts to ₹54 Lakhs (₹540k). He reaches out to the general body which looks after the electricity supply in the state and asks them for their help which they refuse point blank. Helpless, he contacts S. K. who grudgingly denies to help him either.
What will Tripathi do now? How will he fight the system? Will S. K. give up his ego and help his friend out?
Positive Points: –
- Batti Gul Meter Chalu raises a very pertinent issue of the electricity fraud faced by people all across India. If not all, most people are quite likely to connect with it in thematic terms, especially those living in the rural and semi-urban areas.
- Divyendu Sharma’s performance.
Negative Points: –
- The uncalled for commercialisation of a movie with great a social implication hardly goes well. Batti Gul Meter Chalu is not an exception to this observation.
- Amidst all the social drama in the film lies a love triangle which no one asked for. The final result leaves the viewer in splits regarding his view of the movie.
- Terrible screenplay overlapped with lazy direction.
- Of all the courtroom sequences that I have witnessed in cinema, the one here has to be the worst!
- At 163 minutes, it’s an overlong and overstretched flick with a lot of nonsensical addendums.
The General Aspects Of The Film: –
The inflation of electric bills beyond their actual usage might not be a problem simply restricted to India alone, but as far as this State is concerned, it’s sort of an open secret i.e. people know it but don’t fight hard against it. For a small family, the inflations might be ignorable, but for industries no matter their size, it’s definitely a big issue. This is what Batti Gul Meter Chalu centres upon. The subject is relevant and most people can connect to it. Having set up a strong story-base, it seemed almost impossible for the film to have hit any lows and given director Shree Narayan Singh’s reputation post his previous venture Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, the expectations were understandably high.
But in the era when Indian cinema is improving drastically such that people are calling it Our New Wave, commercialisation of movies is not always perceived with positivity. This is where this flick takes the worst hit. A movie which should have been a powerful social drama tries to blend itself into romance and comedy for no good reasons owing to the deplorable screenplay by Siddharth-Garima’s which is pretty uninventive in nature. The first half of the film focuses largely on the romance between the trio while the main social subject takes a backseat. Though the second half starts off pretty strong bringing the real issue back on track, its melodramatic premise followed by a ridiculous courtroom drama, which by far is the worst that I have ever seen in films, makes the film a painful ordeal. The courtroom sequences were not just inaccurate in their depiction but also outright ludicrous owing to the comical overturns. What’s worse is the support all of this gets from the director who lets the commercialisation compromise its powerful concept. I don’t really fathom as to how Singh greenlit the project with the given script. What was the necessity of a love angle? Why were the courtroom sequences so execrable and one-sided? Why didn’t he focus on other problems related to electricity supply in India, for inflated bills and frequent power cuts are just the tip of the iceberg? The real problems faced by the country are only briefly mentioned towards the end which should have in fact been an integral part of the screenplay expunging the romance and insipid humour. Due to all this, the runtime is overstretched to a whopping 163 minutes which becomes heavier as the film descends into risibility. The songs are fine but do nothing much to an already compromised plot.
Talking about the performances, the problem also lay in the fact that these actors were supposed to impart the Uttarakhandi accent, but neither does it satisfactorily. Looking beyond this issue, it’s Divyendu Sharma who actually makes a mark in the film. He deviates from his usual comical roles and descends into a very serious and subtle character who has his own charms and follies. Though his character might seem unidirectional initially, he develops it maturely with the passage of time much to the delight of the audience. Shahid Kapoor, on the other hand, is good in parts. In some montages, he is fierce and powerful and in the rest, he seems to be overacting. The same can be extended to Shraddha Kapoor whose character’s strength is compromised by the overall reckless making of the film. Nonetheless, the movie does get support from its character actors who being veterans, perform pretty well.
Final Verdict: –
After making a grounded film like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, I’m astonished that Shree Narayan Singh made such a mess of this flick. It’s not just mauled by its confused and reckless writing but also overburdened by its enormous runtime and melodrama. It had a great potential in becoming a spectacular piece of work but misses the target by miles. In spite of its shortcomings, Batti Gul Meter Chalu will find some liking amongst those who’d relate to its social message or enjoy its meaningless humour. Nonetheless, this film which talked about lighting a billion houses, itself will get lost in darkness sooner than expected.