The film makes two points very succinctly.
One – the abject poverty that the four members of the Banjo band constantly fight against. In the setting, the circumstances, and in pretty much every scene, this is evident. There is no escaping the thought. So much so that even in a fantasy song where Ritesh dreams of romancing Nargis Fakhri, they are cuddled up in a fishing boat parked on the edge of a debris laden beach shore in Mumbai, with Nargis’s flowing gown sweeping away the garbage to the background score of a romantic melody.
Two – music transcends money. This indeed is the driving point of the film. A New York based music producer seeks out a Banjo band playing on the streets of Bombay, and works with them to create music that is played at fancy night clubs and SoBo rock shows.
Banjo is director Ravi Jadhav’s attempt to weave these two strands in telling a cohesive story. There is heart, and often there is wit and humor, both of which make the movie likeable. The band members are happy to joke about their poverty, and this helps creating greater empathy for them. More importantly, the writer and directors don’t shy of making fun of them either, which makes the film more impactful. Those are some of the strongest moments of the film.
What doesn’t work in Banjo is the screenplay. It is clunky, trying to build up to two moments – one at the interval and one at the end. The film doesn’t necessarily need to lead to grand moments. This story is more about the details, about the neat touches that the director shows in creating these characters for us. Attempts to give a larger than life treatment do not fit well within this narrative.
Riteish is very good as Tarat, the lead player of the band. He is will supported by the other three actors, and their easy camaraderie flows well with the film. Nargis is comfortable when she’s acting like a music junkie from New York, but finds it difficult to really make any scene work in tandem with the other actors.
Banjo is a good attempt as a film. Embellished with a lot more craft and savvy, it could have been a full-blown orchestra instead of a pleasant tune that is heard and forgotten.
Hindi, Drama, Color