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Masand's verdict: Lage Raho Munnabhai


Rajeev Masand,CNN-IBN
Sep 01, 2006 at 10:47pm IST

Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani and Vidya Balan

Direction: Rajkumar Hirani

Rajkumar Hirani's Lage Raho Munnabhai is the follow-up to the immensely enjoyable comedy, Munnabhai MBBS. Contrary to what you've probably heard, Lage Raho Munnabhai is not a sequel to the earlier film. It is not a continuation of that story, in fact it's not even essential for you to have watched that film in order to follow this one.

CARRY ON THE LAUGH RIOT: Lovable goondas, Munna and Circuit, return but with a new story to tell. (IBN)

Lage Raho Munnabhai is in fact a new episode, a new adventure in the lives of Munna and Circuit, the protagonists of the earlier film.

So in this film, Munna and Circuit do return, and they still play lovable goondas, but they've got a new story to tell. This time round, Munna is in love with a radio jockey played by Vidya Balan who he's trying to impress by pretending he has a deep interest in the values propagated by Mahatma Gandhi.

When he's confronted with difficult situations, Munna finds himself being guided by Gandhiji himself, whose teachings and principles Munna adopts reluctantly at first, but eventually with unconditional faith.

You know some movies just strike a chord from the word go, and Lage Raho Munnabhai is exactly that kind of film. It engages you not because it's got the most imaginative plot - which it doesn't actually - but because the intention of the film is clear and sincere.

It's one of those films that encourages you to laugh out loud, to embrace its characters and to make the journey with them. It's evident that the film's main motive is to give you a good time, but it's commendable that writer-director Rajkumar Hirani chose to weave a message into the story.

In many ways, in fact, Lage Raho Munnabhai is like those fables we read in our schoolbooks when we were little. Those simple stories that came with a moral at the end.

The comparisons between Lage Raho Munnabhai and the earlier film Munnabhai MBBS are inevitable, so let's address that right away. Where Munnabhai MBBS was a plot-driven film, Lage Raho Munnabhai is all about its characters.

Unlike the first film, which had a coherent and strong screenplay, Lage Raho Munnabhai is a sometimes rough-and-tumble ride that's held together by the jokes.

Without mincing words, let me say Munnabhai MBBS was a far more intelligent film, but Lage Raho Munnabhai is the real crowd-pleaser. That's not to say the new film isn't bright — because it is. Only, the intelligence this time has been used in crafting a non-stop entertainer.

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The success of Lage Raho Munnabhai lies in its ability to make you completely submit yourself to its charm. It disarms even the toughest nuts to crack, and it fills you with a sense of unbridled enthusiasm, a joie de vivre that's so rare to find in the movies these days.

Like those good old-fashioned Hrishikesh Mukherjee films, it also reinforces the importance of human goodness and basic niceties. Even if you might argue that some of Gandhi's principles seem outdated today, you cannot help but cheer for Munna and his gang as they achieve the impossible with love and kindness. And that is where this film transcends conventional boundaries. It entertains you, yes, but it also makes you yearn for a perfect world.

Judge it by any yardstick that you may, Lage Raho Munnabhai emerges a clear winner. Much of that credit must go to its actors who pull out all stops to make it an enjoyable ride.

Boman Irani playing Munna's nemesis and Vidya Balan as his love interest deliver inspired performances, but they leave the real glory for the central players.

As Munna's faithful sidekick Circuit, Arshad Warsi is the film's biggest revelation. His timing, his expressions, his poker-faced jokes — it's grade-A stuff and his is a performance that's worthy of awards.

Upping the ante, putting his best foot forward again, Sanjay Dutt is delightful as Munna. That mixture of naivete and smart-alecness that he brings to the role is what endears him to the audience forever.

The film scores primarily because it takes you to a happy place, because it makes you root for its leads, because it engages you into what's going on, on-screen. So that's two thumbs up for director Rajkumar Hirani's Lage Raho Munnabhai.

May the adventures of Munna and Circuit live on and on and on. Go watch it right away, it's a film that will touch your heart.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Very Good)

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