Movie Review: Banjo

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If you saw Ravi Jadhav’s “Banjo” without any knowledge of his filmography, you’d think this was an amateur effort rather than a film by an accomplished director. Jadhav, who made the wonderful “Balak Palak” and “Natsamrat” in Marathi, seems to have lost his mojo during the transition to Hindi films and slides deep into mediocrity and cliches.

“Banjo”, which looks and feels like a film that has crossed its sell-by date, is the rather mundane story of Nand Kishore (Riteish Deshmukh), fondly known as Taraat (drunk in Marathi) and his four friends. He’s an extortionist who works for the local politician, and is the leader of their band in his free time.

We meet Nand Kishore during the first of many cliched scenes in this film - the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai where he and the band members are playing what one character calls “life-changing” music, although it sounds far from it.

Kris (Nargis Fakhri), a musician in New York, hears a clip of their song and decides to collaborate with them. She flies to Mumbai and visits slums in search of the band. Along the way, she is recruited by a “research agency” to “do a report” on slum land. How a musician is considered competent to do this, we are never told, and this is one of the myriad moments where “Banjo” abandons logic.

The screenplay is littered with tropes like rival bands and evil builders, and the lack of acting talent on display does nothing for the film, with Nargis Fakhri leading the pack. She gets too much screen time and her rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights expression is unintentionally funny.

An incoherent script magnifies this problem, and pulls “Banjo” down into a quagmire from which even Deshmukh, for all his screen presence, cannot rescue it.