Phas Gaya Re Obama (2010)
- Written by Subhash Kapoor
- Directed by Subhash Kapoor
Phas Gaya Re Obama - Movie Highlights
Commercialization has killed the very essence of movies and today, a movie is measured not by its content but by the rat race to the 100 crore club! And many movies are fast included in that club which have zero repeat value and are forgotten as soon as they are out from theatres. But once in many Friday's comes a film that not only brings in a breath of fresh air but also proves that content is King. Here is hoping that the Indian film industry apart from just running behind financial benefits begins to take notice of such unique cinema leaving behind some good legacy. And Phas Gaya Re Obama is one such film that reiterates and restates the fact that content always reigns supreme. It is a black comedy unlike the usual run of the mill comedies which Bollywood thrives on. It released to positive reviews and was well appreciated by critics. The film was remade in Telugu as Shankaraabharanam (2017). Subhash Kapoor followed this with highly successful Jolly LLB and Jolly LLB 2.
Set against the backdrop of recession/global meltdown in 2008, it tells the story of Om Shastri (Rajat Kapoor), an NRI who has gone bankrupt. He comes to a small town in Uttar Pradesh (India) with the hopes of selling-off his ancestral property so that he can repay the loans to save his house in US. But the effects of recession are also felt in India and he struggles to find a buyer. To add to his woes he is kidnapped by an underworld gang (who are also facing the brunt of recession) who think that he is a millionaire. Bhaisaab (Sanjay Mishra) the leader of the gang soon realizes that his prized catch is penniless and neck-deep in debt. Anni (Manu Rishi Chadha), a deputy of Bhaisaab, comes up with the cracker of an idea. The gang plans to sell Om to the next gang for a ransom and Om also gets his share for keeping his mouth shut without revealing the plans of the gang. The new kidnapper Ali gives Bhaisaab Rs. 30 lakh, which is shared 50:50 by Bhaisaab and Om Shastri. However, the new kidnapper keeps not just Om but also Anni in custody till he can recover the ransom money. Later Ali also comes to know about Om's bankruptcy but Om saves his and Anni's life by giving him the same idea. The cycle continues and so Ali sells Om and Anni to Munni (Neha Dhupia), a dreaded female gangster for a higher ransom. Om gets his share which is transferred to his account in US. He is happy and asks his wife to pay off the loan. But soon Munni comes to know about Om's state and captures Bhai Sahab and his men. Om again saves his and others life from Munni asking her to play the same trick with local Minister and politician Dhanajay Singh (Amol Gupte). The Minister runs a kidnapping Mafia and is the head of all kidnappings. Minister pays the ransom which is higher than the previous ransom and keeps Om and Anni at his guest house. But now Om and Anni come to know that they cannot further play the same trick and will be killed if Om's wife doesn't pay the ransom. Will Om manage to get back to his family in the US or will he spend the rest of his life being shuffled from one recession-struck gang to another forms the crux of the story?
Bollywood sometimes make sensible movies and we should appreciate it. Phas Gaye Re Obama (PGRO) is one such delightful surprise package from journalist turned writer-director Subhash Kapoor who developed this idea of making a movie on recession when many producers gave the same reason of recession for not producing his movies. He built this amusingly hilarious plot to vent out his anger on recession and its effects. The film, showcases how global meltdown impacted lives from an America based businessman to underworld dons in the dusty plains of small town India. The characters are outrageous and the outcome is hilarious. This deliciously smart comedy has a terrific script and is executed brilliantly. PGRO is a good example of what a good original script can do in the hands of a capable director. The movie holds your attention because it is thoughtfully written, has fantastic characterization and with a sense of humour that is sarcastic, witty and amusing. After the first few scenes you get a feeling that it's not a routine movie and after some 20 minutes, the movie changes its gear. At interval you find yourself so engrossed in the movie that you start guessing what's next... and the end of the movie leaves you with a great satisfaction and admiration not only for the film but also for its makers. With no unnecessary scenes and absolutely no songs the film remains on the main course largely succeeding in its endeavor of entertaining the audience. The only place where PGRO falls short is the initial phase and gradually gathers pace after introducing its characters and remain consistent till the end. It has many zany situations and uproarious moments that make it shine.
- 1. Although the key trick is replicated four times in the story, it's presented with enough innovation and different characterization of each member.
- 2. Obama's famous 'Yes we can!' speech and when mouthed by gangsters in unison is a riot and is indeed the best moment in the film.
- 3. English coaching class scene
- 4. A receipt is provided on payment of the ransom and a one-year guarantee against a repeat abduction.
- 5. Om Shastri treated as a VIP hostage.
- 6. At one point of time Om is so impressed with the organized nature of the business, that he says there is more honor in the underworld than in the whole of American industry, etc.
All this and more will leave you in splits as there's absolutely no dearth of LOL inducing moments. And from international politics to America's waning influence on the world, to kidnapping as a business for politicians in the heartland of India, the film has lots of political comment disguised as light humor only if you are clever to identify them. The light, humorous and a little sarcastic way of presenting some of the very sensitive truths of our society is really commendable. It's one of those rare Hindi films that's funny and smart at the same time. Don't miss it.
The beauty of the film is that there are no main leads here but a bunch of class actors who are all spot on. Along the way we're introduced to a string of quirky, original characters that add colour to this palette. There is nobody in the cast, who does not do justice with their role. A terrific performance from the entire cast is the USP of the film. Rajat Kapoor as the NRI is as usual fine in his calm and cool approach. Sanjay Mishra as Bhai Sahab, a disheartened gangster is brilliant as always. Neha Dhupia as Munni, a dreaded dacoit and self-confessed man-hater is superb. Amole Gupte as Dhananjay Singh, the piles-afflicted Animal Welfare minister is outstanding. And last but not the least it is Manu Rishi (of Oye Lucky Lucky Oye fame) as Anni, who is excellent. He displays perfect timing with his role. His desire to go to the US and hence watching US news channels and going to English classes will bring the house down.
A small little gem that deserves a watch!