Director Sarthak Dasgupta’s attempt is endearing, trying to push hard boundaries, but the output isn’t solid
Filmmaking is a real tough affair. 200 Halla Ho, in almost every scene reinforces that. You watch things and you like, but you also feel something missing. You are interested in the narrative, but there are points that seem disjointed. It is a film that asks hard hitting questions, giving you many chances to ponder over certain things. But you don’t do it for long. You watch the film with concentration and simply move on immediately after the film is over.
Watch the trailer here:
An under trial hooligan, while being taken for his hearing inside the court, is attacked brutally and executed by 200 masked women. Begins the hunt of finding the culprits and real reason of why the execution took place.
The story is penned by Abhijeet Das and Soumyajit Roy, with screenplay by Sarthak Dasgupta, Gaurav Sharma, Abhijeet Das, and Soumyajit Roy. The dialogues are written by Gaurav Sharma. The film is co-directed by Alok Batra. To begin with, the idea holds merit, more so because it talks about the issue very pertinent, not in rural and remote India, but very much in the urban setup. Even today. In contemporary times. It’s an idea that hits you hard. It’s an idea that should be discussed in the mainstream domain more often. The narrative also talks about disturbing things including the brash behaviour of rapists or the plight of women- especially Dalit women, their concerns and questions, why they bring in their caste and class in conversations, and why justice and equality have their lines intersected yet blurred.
It’s a difficult to conceive and write. The achievement is that it has managed to come out, in a decent manner. What is not convincing is the approach and the direction the narrative takes after a point. The screenplay tries to establish one woman as the leader and builds a suspense around it- but that shouldn’t have been the case. There could have been a smoother way in how this leader is established and how her angle of story is projected. Also, for the part of Fact Finding Committee in the film, the actual nature of the working is ambiguous, because of the emotions of the people that are reflected for the investigation period. Basically, the scenes are conceived well, but not written well enough.
There are scenes that make the film a visual spectacle. Not a spoiler- both the chilly powder spilling scenes have been choreographed intelligently and stylistically giving you goosebumps. Also the rape and molestation scenes have been directed with gruesome rawness. They make you disgust the actors committing the crime- an enriching thing. These are the moments that make the viewing worthwhile.
However, there are also moments that make the narrative rushed. In the second half, there are scenes where you are asked to accept certain transitions and movements and decisions taken by the characters. This is also where the impact seems drop. The courtroom scenes are although interesting, but they make the case end in haste. Things happen quickly. When you begin to enjoy the intensive courtroom questioning and drama, the film comes to an end with the final moral lesson. You wished it could stay but it doesn’t.
It’s nice to see Amol Palekar in a strong role, a serious one at that. Although he seems to be faltering at times with the fluency and intonation, he does manage to pull it off by putting a strong stance and a firm body language. Just like his charismatic character, he also offers the film that star power.
Rinku Rajguru gives a decent performance in shades of the role. She has an arc and she makes it believable in all of those shades. Her character grows on you, just like how her character dos in the narrative.
Flora Saini has a small role, but she performs it ably and strongly. She suits the role she is in, making it seem credible. Navni Parihar nails the role she has been given- the supporting one. And she is a great support to the character she is with. Every time she comes on screen, she brings along warmth and care- and most importantly rationality.
Saloni Batra is just okay. She could have been better in how she approaches the role. Sahil Khattar as Balli is deadly and vicious. He is so good that you hate him outrightly. You disgust him, despise him, and just can’t bear his sight. He is that good.
Barun Sobti uses his charm and confident yet restrained body language to give the character realism. You like him. Upendra Limaye has his moments and he doesn’t falter at all in any of the scenes. No wonder he is a National Award Winner. Indraneil Sengupta is also good, with certain moments to make his mark. His role doesn’t have much depth otherwise though.
Background score by Prateek Nandan is okay, inclined towards the positive side. During the cruel rape scenes, the music works wonders. Also, the scenes with red chilly powder as the key element visually, the film also lives upto it aurally.
Cinematography by Deep Metkar is one big reason why you should this film. Visually, the film is rich and vibrant. The lights or the sets created by Sidhant Malhotra also give the film an exquisite flavour. The film has style in its visual presentation- of the kind that doesn’t take away from the harsh realities of life.
Editing by Abhishek Seth is satisfactory, as the flaws are with the writing department majorly. Even the portions that seem to be rushing much, are because the writing is hasty. Editing atleast has given the film a definite structure.
It’s good for a one time watch. Sadly, it won’t be memorable enough despite having an important issue at stake. The fate of the film will remain in dark, mostly because of the nature of loose screenplay.