Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The war for politics power, money and one-upmanship returns in the sequel to ‘Saheb Biwi aur Gangster’. Deception, drama and scandals riddle this 145-minute movie set in Northern India’s royal-ruled districts, where the characters play politics (in and out of their bedrooms) and there are love triangles galore.
The movie picks up from where it left off, with a wheelchair ridden saheb (term used in colonial India to address British men of power, adopted today by royal’s who still live in the past) – Aditya Pratap Singh(Jimmy Shergill), who continues to wield control over his so-called kingdom and his alcoholic wife, in spite of an obvious handicap. The biwi (Mahie Gill) – Madhavi Singh – is the constituency’s proxy head but unhinged by her alcoholism and daily battle for power with her scheming husband.
Additions to the cast are a fresh-faced Soha Ali Khan, who plays Ranjana, saheb’s new love-interest (he is a royal king in India and can afford many wives), and Irrfan Khan (‘Slumdog Millionaire’, ‘Life of Pi’) who plays Inder, the sequel’s "gangster" – A bankrupt royal prince who resorts to small-time crime to make ends meet, keeping his self-esteem intact. Inder and Ranjana are in a relationship, when saheb sets sights on marrying her and thus ensues a cat and mouse game that involves plots, schemes, blackmail, and attempted murder.
While sex and power are the movie’s main driving forces, politics plays a vital supporting role and we see saheb clutching at straws to retain power of his crumbling kingdom while Inder uses Madhavi and her political position as a pawn in his scheme against saheb; he plays on her vulnerabilities, and a game of sexual power-play ensues which leaves the audience wondering if the player got played.
The cast performs effectively and is supported by a slew of actors who essay small, but impactful roles and take the audience into their world of small-town North India’s erstwhile princely states, where royals cling on to their heyday while the common man suffers the consequences of political power struggles.
The wounded characters are either looking for love, in love, tired of love or confusing power for love. Performance-wise, Jimmy Shergill exudes charisma even while being wheelchair-bound. The continuity in his persona for those who have seen part one is familiar, and sets the mood for his character. Mahie takes the drunkenness a tad too far, and appears almost comical in several scenes. Soha is ineffective, but is a pretty sight for sore eyes.
If you do watch the movie for one reason only, let that reason be Irrfan Khan. He is as believable as the scheming gangster in love here as he was the spiritually calm, older Piscine Molitor Patel in ‘Life of Pi’. Known for more hits that misses (not surprisingly, he has the film’s best dialogues), Irrfan essays his character’s vulnerability and confusion perfectly and delivers witty comebacks with the deadpan expression we have now come to recognise as uniquely his. Watching him, you do not notice that the movie drags on for 20 minutes longer than the script demands (or that the only screen in Singapore that is playing this movie is infested with vicious mosquitoes). Although the movie ends with a hint at yet another sequel (Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns Again?), Irffan has left a rather large pair of shoes to fill.