Saturday, September 23, 2006

Lage Raho Munna Bhai - Carry on Bro!

Gandhivaad has a new incarnation - it's called Gandhigiri. The revered and deified Mahatma has metamorphosed into an approachable, identifiable and friendly chum. He still sticks to his values and beliefs, but rather than throwing them at us from the high pedestal of a preacher, he puts an arm around our shoulders, and with a friendly wink convinces us that he is as relevant today as he was in the pre-independence era. The archaic, seemingly anachronistic and irrelevant concept of Gandhian values is suddenly hot and happening.

Tension nahin lene ka....Bapu hai na

Rajkumar Hirani gives Bapu a new avatar and demonstrates that you don't necessarily need to recycle the gags that worked so well in the original to come up with an enjoyable sequel. The second episode of Munnabhai (I prefer to call it an 'episode' rather than a 'sequel'), is strikingly original, extremely funny; and at the same time, carries an important message without being preachy at all. Gandhivaad has been re-packaged as Gandhigiri to make it relevant for today's generation, and it's not surprising that it has caught the imagination of the youth today. Cynics might argue that the film is 'unreal' and the solution to problems by applying Gandhian values too simplistic and improbable. Yet, you can't deny the fact that the film has achieved what it set out to do - entertain people with dollops of fun, yet convey a strong message. Our lovable goons - Munna and Circuit - have done more service to propagating Gandhian values than what even decades of deification could not do.

When Rajkumar Hirani made Munnabhai MBBS, he was still struggling to emerge from the shadows of his high-profile mentor, Vidhu Vinod Chopra. But with Lage Raho, he has clearly come up on his own. There's no doubt that he is the most promising filmmaker of the commercial format today. His originality is his strength. If Hollywood bought the rights of his first film and commissioned Mira Nair to remake it as Gangsta MD, I'm sure Lage Raho too deserves to be remade. Only, I can't think of which historical person would take Gandhi's place in the Hollywood version. Martin Luther King? Probably.

Raju Hirani has started working on the script of the third 'episode', where Munna is likely to go to the US and probably come face to face with George Bush (?). That should be an interesting film to watch as well, but it’s still early days. As Raju Hirani mentioned in an interview, it will be 2-3 years before we get to see Munna's next escapade. I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.

Lage Raho Rajubhai...Carry on Bro!