One of those outrageously inferior films served in the name of cinema, SANTA BANTA PVT. LTD. has nothing to do with either detectives, secret agents or comedy clearing the doubts if any. In fact it’s such a badly conceived film that one feels like seriously questioning the intelligence and sense of humour of not only its makers but the known onscreen performers too, who simply look dumb or brain-dead enacting the annoying, boring sequences in a completely unfunny manner. In more blunt words, even the famous ‘I love trashy Hindi movies’ group at Facebook will find it hard to mention or discuss it in their posts as any enjoyable Bollywood Trash.
The film begins with an animation praising the Sikh community playing it safe (that might have been added later after the strong opposition) and then goes on to present a ‘so called story’ that hardly has something entertaining as rightly indicated by its lackluster promos and publicity material. The writing is simply flat with neither anything funny or engaging in terms of even individual sequences and one begins sensing the mess, right from the opening five minutes itself regretting the choice made to watch it in a costly multiplex. Full of dated jokes, dull performances and amateurish execution, it’s actually a film that everyone associated with, would love to give a miss in his or her career profile or show-reel to be sent for the future projects.
Having said that, I honestly didn’t feel irritated or angry while watching the film, but felt really sad witnessing two highly talented actors Boman Irani and Vir Das playing such sluggishly written lifeless characters on screen, who otherwise are quite known for their fun loving, witty nature in real life. Plus here we also have the underrated Sanjay Mishra, Vijay Raaz and the veteran Johny Lever too trying their level best to entertain in absence of any supporting material provided by the poor writing department. Adding their own ‘nothingness’ into the project Ram Kapoor, Neha Dhupia and Lisa Haydon keep participating in the awful proceedings professionally and the disinterest can clearly be spotted on their expression-less plain faces right through the unbearable film. Deserving a special mention here we also get to see Sonu Nigam singing and dancing in a song with ‘some great’ lyrics as ‘Machhli Jal Ki Rani Hai, Aji Daaru Ke Sang Khaani Hai’.
Need to say anything more?
Accused of hurting the sentiments of Sikh community (with its lead characters modeled on the infamous Santa-Banta jokes series against which a moral fight has already begun), the makers as well as the actors have strongly denied any such intention in their recent interviews and press statements. But ironically that doesn’t seem to be the case as far as the title and appearances are concerned in particular.
Looking at the matter with an unbiased vision, Yes, the film doesn’t try to insult any particular community intentionally in its written sequences or dialogues. But its actually the title that does the damage much more than the ‘unseen content’ portraying two Sikhs as mere comedians with a clear motive. And the motive here is to encash the already known names gaining some instant attention that certainly would not have been possible with some Cheeku-Meeku, Ajay-Vijay or Albert-Pinto Pvt. Ltd kind of comic titles.
Further, this also looks like intentional since the entertainment industry had already witnessed a similar case back in the 90s and it’s not possible that the big corporate house and their sharp legal department might not be aware of this major fact. So sighting a sure shot news-making publicity campaign on the cards, the title seems to be purposefully kept as SANTA BANTA PVT. LTD., knowingly inviting the opposition of all Sikh organizations.
Informing the readers about the famous similar case of the 90s, it was related with a musical countdown show called “Zee’s Philips Top Ten” aired around 1994-95. The series became immensely popular due to its well written and entertaining immature conversation between the two lead Punjabi characters superbly played by the gifted artists Pankaj Kapur and Satish Kaushik as two loving brothers. A particular way of interaction among these two Punjabis became the talks of the town in those days and everyone from kids to college going youngsters could be seen imitating the same as,
In the beginning of this show both Pankaj and Satish were portrayed as Sikh characters wearing readymade turbans and talking in typical Punjabi tone (knowing it well). But later as the particular program became one of the top 3 TV shows of that time, a complaint was filed against the questionable Sikh portrayal in the series resulting in a break.
Later when it revived after a few weeks, both Pankaj and Satish were given caps instead of turbans but their way of conversing with each other remained more or less the same. At present the episodes available at Youtube are from the second version of the show with the first probably lost in the Beta tapes lying in some stores of a forgotten production house.
Coming back to the review, I think there is nothing left to say about this stale and avoidable film, so just forget about it.
Rating : 0.5 / 5 (And that too for the hard working technical crew giving their best as required)
[Note : Addressing the opposition, there was a Punjabi DVD film made within Punjab, with the title having the names SANTA BANTA in it, featuring two Sikh actors only playing the lead roles, released by a well-known audio-video company in the year 2011. When I first saw that product in the market back in 2012, I wondered why it wasn’t being opposed by the people and why they are not feeling upset by such prominent release also being publicized at the leading Punjabi TV channels? Anyway the movie is still there uploaded at Youtube at the time of writing this review and can easily be searched by the name of ‘Ghasita Hawaldar Santa Banta Frar’ also featuring one of the most famous actors of Punjabi cinema, Gurpreet Ghuggi.]