When a movie opens up with an unfamiliar and somewhat odd title, a Hollywood production house gracing its intro and the voice of Blaze accompanying some unconventional lyrics, well let me just tell you that it will be no ordinary cinema experience. These were my thoughts whilst watching the opening credits of Shona Urvashi’s latest venture Saas Bahu Aur Sensex.
When a director goes from directing a love story that had so much potential but was barely recognized, to a project that is India’s first film to be supported by Warner Bros., you really know that the industry does value talent and is forever giving it a second chance. Shona Urvashi’s debut project Chupke Se was brilliant in every way, however the lack of promotion and big names took a toll on a highly impressive script. To my surprise Shona learnt her lesson and Saas Bahu Aur Sensex was making news from the day the promos released.
The movie stars a great combination of artists including the inimitable Kiron Kher, supported by artists of all ages ranging from Tanushree Dutta to Lilette Dubey. Saas Bahu Aur Sensex is truly unique in every way.
The variation of artists encompassed in this project is justified by its very special and demanding storyline which revolves around families who all live in one apartment complex in Mumbai. There is the South Indian couple who dance to Kamal Hassan’s tunes, the Muslim extended family in which the saas (mother–in–law) and bahu (daughter-in-law) never seem to agree, the loud and cheerful Punjabi family and the ever growing family tree of the apartment complex. The newest edition to this very extended family is Binita Sen (Kiron Kher) and her daughter Nitya Sen (Tanushree Dutta) who’ve just moved from Kolkata after Binita divorced her husband. They attract some attention from the rest of the complex members because of their unusual family arrangement. Soon, however, Binita and Nitya become a part of this very loving and forever growing family. Saas Bahu Aur Sensex is the story of the lives of all the families in this complex and how their lives are unconsciously situated around the Indian stock market.
Yes you read correctly. The Indian stock market is the theme of Shona Urvashi’s Saas Bahu Aur Sensex. It is predominantly about the women of this complex and how they take up investing in the stock market as a hobby. To guide them on this adventurous journey is Firoz Sethi (Farook Sheikh), the local stock broker.
I won’t indulge further into the happenings of the movie as the enjoyment in this movie lies with having little expectations. Basically, it’s a light hearted comedy that has many lessons of life to be learnt from the characters before you.
Shona Urvashi takes a huge leap as a maker to challenge a genre and a storyline that has not been attempted before. To my great delight, she excels in this challenge and delivers a movie that is not only entertaining but classy and well made. Her character sketches are immaculate which may prove to be the biggest asset to the movie. You really get to know the characters, what they do and why they do it. It’s been proven before that audiences enjoy a movie far more if they can relate with the characters, the situations and the setting. Shona has set the movie in such an ordinary surrounding with such ordinary characters that each person in the cinema hall will find something to their liking on screen.
However, soon or later we have to reach the sour part of this review. Saas Bahu Aur Sensex falls short despite its great script. This is due to its pre-interval screenplay which is unfortunately very dragged out. It is not until post-interval that the saases and bahus become engaged in stock market gambling, and until then there are many unneeded twists and turns. Audiences are left wondering for quite some time at the direction of the movie. You know the titled ‘sensex’ indicates some sort of relation to the stock market, but you have no idea how the director will take you to this point. This is never a good thing because you tend to loose interest and start getting a bit frustrated. In addition, the movie length of two and a half hours could have easily been cut down to make it short, sweet and to the point. This is particularly relevant to the extended scenes featuring Mausmeh and Ankur. Both perform very well, but audiences would have been far more entertained if they witnessed the hilariousness of the complex saases and bahus who truly are the characters that entertain you the most. I can’t help but wish that we saw more of the stories of each of the ladies as they all had very unique backgrounds.
To the audiences delight, the movie does pick up post-interval and becomes thoroughly fast paced, grabbing your attention once again with various twist and turns. In addition, the connecting twist between Ankur and Masumeh’s story and the ladies’ adventures with the stock market is a twist that really grabs the audience and illustrates a very crucial lesson about the activities of the stock market.
Now moving on to the performances of this very diverse star cast that Shona has put together. We’ll begin with Kiron Kher who is the heart and soul of the movie. The woman is so talented you really wish she would get such a great role more often so we all can witness her charisma on screen. Farooq Sheikh is very entertaining and is complemented very well with a lovable character. Seema Azmi is very cute and delivers a totally refreshing performance from that of hers in Chak De India. Mausemeh is very effective in her role as is Ankur Khanna who does prove to be a scene stealer at portions. Tanushree Dutta emerges as a hidden gem with this movie. The girl whose been wasted in petty projects till now finally gets the moment to shine, and she grabs it with both hands. You will definitely walk out of the cinema hall with a totally redefined opinion of Tanushree. You wish you saw more of Lilette Dubey, but she is thoroughly entertaining in every portion as always!
On the whole, Saas Bahu Aur Sensex is a very honest attempt by Shona Urvashi to try out something new, and it surely does impress. She incorporated lessons to be learnt from the corporate world and lessons of life in general very well into a story about ordinary people. The movie is still quite enjoyable and engaging despite its slow paced first half. However, there may be a portion of the audiences who won’t be as tolerant to the flawed screenplay. Perhaps the specialized genre may limit the audiences, but the lovable characters will surely bring the masses in. Definitely spread the word about this one!