I had hopes from Banjo because of a couple of things: director Ravi Jadhav has done a bunch of good Marathi films (Natarang is terrific; Balak Palak places an important conversation at the heart of a ‘children’s’ film; Balgandharva has great music), and lead actor Riteish Deshmukh is light on his feet, even in the broadest comedies he almost always seems to be seen in.But Banjo has practically no redeeming features. It is about a NRI musician’s (Nargis Fakhri) search for an original sound which leads her to the banjo artist Tarraat (Riteish Deshmukh) and his ragtag band, and what happens next. Because underdogs have to win, we know how things will pan out. But the painful progression to that climactic point is filled with uniformly terrible acting, clichéd situations and shouty, obvious dialogue. Fakhri’s actorly limitations are obvious even in the song-and-dance sequences. And her choice of attire for the slum tourism the film ties to pass offas truism is very short shorts-and-singlets: every single male character she passes or sits alongside, has got his eyeballs hanging out. If that’s not cringe-making, I don’t know what is. The gawking males with wandering eyes includes Deshmukh’s leading man, who calls her ‘madam’, and promptly and predictably falls for her. Also read | Banjo, Parched, Days of Tafree release at box office today, who will emerge winner? The only time the film stops trying your patience somewhat is when it bursts into song, and even there, it has only one which is foot-tapping.Really, you expect better from Deshmukh, whose artfully dusty, tangled tresses and toned, worked-out frame don’t match up to the required grunginess of his character description. And from Jadhav, who has done so much better in his previous outings.
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