Writing films in dialect seems to have caught on in Hindi cinema. This film is set in a small town in Uttarakhand and the central characters speak in Garhwali. It would be nice to know the phrase for ‘too damn long’ in Garhwali, because that is the major criticism of this film. The movie is not dull; it is just stretched like a rubber band to 175 minutes, especially the first half, which takes forever to set up. It is about a romantic threesome that goes horribly wrong.
Tripathi (Divyendu Sharma), Pant (Shahid Kapoor) and Nautiyal (Shraddha Kapoor), all respectable surnames from Uttarakhand, are friends in a small town in these beautiful hills. The boys are soul buddies who both like Nautiyal. Pant is an operator, a lawyer who uses blackmail and extortion to earn big bucks. Tripathi is a hardworking and straightforward guy who takes a loan to start a business of his own. They both call Nautiyal ‘naughty’, a nickname from their schooldays. One day, the crafty lawyer suggests that the best way to sort out who gets ‘naughty’, is to date her for a week each. A toss will decide who goes first.
Pant makes sure that he wins the toss and dates ‘naughty’. But when she asks him leading questions, he hums and haws, and there is no deal. Tripathi goes next, and he is so sweet and romantic and, yes, naughty as well, that they end up kissing on the first date, and are a couple by the next.
Meanwhile, a second story is set in motion. Tripathi’s business is in trouble, after his electricity dues jump to 54 lakhs in a few months. He has started a business and has bought machines for it, but this hardly calls for an escalation of his bills to this exorbitant figure. A private company is supplying the power. Ruthlessly, they cut it off when Tripathi is unable to pay the amount. His business comes to a standstill and he is in debt, facing bankruptcy. Being essentially a soft hearted man, he goes into severe depression.
The unscrupulousness of the private sector who loot ordinary citizens of their hard earned money is an important issue. It strikes a common chord in the audience. When turned into a social media campaign that ends up in the High Court of Nainital, the movie becomes a classic and time honoured court-room drama, with defence lawyer, Mr Pant, Prosecutor (Yami Gautam) and Judge (Sushmita Mukherjee) coming out with all guns blazing.
So the plot is hackneyed, but actor Shahid Kapoor does manage to hold the sky up for a while with his articulate and eccentric speech, reminiscent of his grandiose style, once he is declared ‘mad’ in ‘Haider’. He can be very funny, and sometimes brings the house down with a single quixotic statement.
But three hours is just too much time to waste on his antics, and ‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’ ends up as a crashing bore. This movie is only for die hard fans of Shahid Kapoor.