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Dangerous Liaisons

Friday, July 27, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

The third part of Tigmanshu Dhulia's 'Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster' releases this week, so flashback-ing to the first two.

Reworking the Bimal Mitra classic 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam' (made into a film in 1962 by Abrar Alvi) he set the first (made in 2011) film in a fictional 'kingdom' still under the control of the erstwhile ruler (Jimmy Shergill), whose fortunes have depleted, and he now has to compete for crumbs of government contracts and other unsavoury work with the nouveau riche upstarts like Gainda Singh (Vipin Sharma). His once glorious army of loyal foot soldiers is reduced to one, Kanhaiya (Deepraj Rana).

He has to beg his stepmother for funds to keep his mistress Mahua (Shreya Narayan) in comfort, while in his crumbling 'haveli', his wife (Mahie Gill) is literally going nuts. Into this already simmering cauldron enters Babloo (Randeep Hooda), as a driver to replace his wounded uncle. He is Gainda Singh's plant – a cocky, English speaking, guitar strumming man, who was dumped by his girlfriend because he has no class.

Babloo and the wife quickly start an affair, while around them politics, corruption and bloodshed colour the landscape. The 'Saheb' losing his prestige and the loyalty of a minister (Rajeev Gupta), needs Babloo as an amoral henchman, and the guy moves around everyone like an expert chessmaster.

Dhulia layered the story with an observant, if not always disapproving look at how the other India lives – lawless, hypocritical, greedy and brutal.

The surprise success of this film called for a sequel that mostly went over old ground, but created a cast of even more twisted characters, and threw them in a simmering cauldron of ambition, frustration and hate.

This 'Return' (in 2013) had a new gangster in the form of a minor princeling Inderpratap Singh (Irrfan), and the family's former glory reduced to a decrepit 'haveli'. He is called Raja Bhaiya, and craves wealth, power and revenge against Saheb or Aditya Pratap Singh (Jimmy Sheirgill), who was shot in the first film, and is now in a wheelchair. His drunken wife Madhavi (Mahie Gill), who had grabbed political power at the end of Part One, realises, even in an alcoholic haze, that she must do something to get out of the rut she has got herself into.

Aditya Pratap wants to marry Ranjana (Soha Ali Khan), and pressurises her father (Raj Babbar) into agreeing to the match. But Ranjana is in love with Inder, who in turn is using Madhavi to get what he wants, as she uses him. The game of love and sex plays out against a complicated political backdrop that involves the partition of UP, and four former royals trying to get the best of the situation.

After the characters and their motivations were introduced, Dhulia could not keep either the pace or the plot moving to a satisfying finale. The ending, however, left a hint about another sequel... and here it is, with Sanjay Dutt top-lining the cast as the new gangster.

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