As the lamppost keeps flickering, a drunk Lalita Nautiyal aka 'Nauti' (Shraddha Kapoor yells, "Yaato Jalja Ya Bujh Ja Bul, Yeh Bund Bujh Band Bujh Kya Laga Rakhe.' Well, these lines aptly describe how Shree Narayan Singh's latest directorial, Batti Gul Meter Chalu unfolds onscreen. The filmmaker touches upon the pertinent topic of power outages in Indian towns and the hefty electricity bills that most of us have to endure. But, the superficial treatment spoils the show.
To begin with, Sushil Kumar Pant, known as SK (Shahid Kapoor), Nauti (Shraddha Kapoor) and Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma) are childhood besties. While SK is a guile lawyer who doesn't mind resorting to cunning tricks to earn some quick bucks, Tripathi is a man of principles. A major first half of the film revolves around their idyllic friendship and easy camaraderie.
However, things take a sombre turn when romance takes a lead and Nauti decides to date them in turns to pick up a perfect life-partner for herself. Jealousy crops in, friendships go kaput and hearts are broken as events unfold.
While Devdas is known to have found solace in bottle when Paro broke his heart, apna SK decides to awaken his sleeping conscience instead when a tragedy strikes!
Shree Narayan Singh's Batti Gul Meter Chalu is a well-intended film. But that's just it. The director takes up a socially-relevant theme and tries to adapt it to a conventional Bollywood format filled with romance, songs, dances and humour. Unfortunately, the grim reality gets diluted in the process.
Known to have a knack when it comes to portraying the heartland of India, Singh falters terribly this time as he overdoes the Kumaoni dialect to make his characters look authentic. So, you have a words like 'bal' and 'thehri' thrown at the end of every sentence. Sample this, "Bijli chali gayi, bal', 'Main tumse pyar karke thehri, bal'...phew, the list goes on and on! Further, the courtroom scenes in the second half ends more like a mockery with the flirtatious banter.
Speaking about the performances, Shahid Kapoor shows spark particularly when he plays his brash avatar and also makes you shed a tear or two when it's time to go intense. Shraddha Kapoor tries to be a live wire but, the Kumaoni dialect prevents her from showcasing her best. Divyendu Sharma gets a meaty role to chew upon and shines in places. Yami Gautam tries to make the best out of what's she's offered.
On the flip side, it's disheartening to watch seasoned actors like Farida Jalal, Supriya Pilgaonkar and Sudhir Pandey reduced to cardboard props.
Anshuman Mahaley's lens capture the beauty of Uttarakhand in a satisfying way. However, Batti Gul Meter Chalu falls flat when it comes to editing. At a runtime of almost three hours, the film stretches its plot like a chewing gum and makes it a tiresome watch. The songs ain't the bright spots either, but thankfully they don't come off as distractions.
There's a dialogue in the film which says, 'Jeetne Se Jayada Ladhna Zaruri Thehra.' Shahid Kapoor puts in his sincere efforts, but it's the weak direction and editing which fails to light up the film. I am going with 2 and a half stars here.