Phas Gaye Re Obama

The setting is 2008, when the entire world is reeling under the financial tsunami of the Wall street collapse. And the tremors of those events are being felt as far as rural India, where a group of bumbling “khandaani” kidnappers are ruing the “recession” that has made their plight pitiful – victims are offering ridiculously low ransom payments, no one is paying protection money and things are so bad that they cant afford even outgoing calls on mobiles.

Amidst this gloominess, the semi-literate member of the group Anee announces the arrival of NRI Mr Shastri to their town and the kidnappers immediately see a pot of gold with him. Unfortunately for them, other “senior” kidnappers in the area are also seeing stacks of dollars in front of them. In the midst of all this, imagine if Mr NRI is himself bankrupt and is in India only to sell off his ancestral property.

Phas Gaye Re Obama’s story flows well, and a few sequences are especially memorable. Especially the organised kidnapping business, with its bank-like ransom handling facilities and a “kidnapping receipt” - which is to be shown in case of any other kidnapping attempt and is valid for 12 months :) !! There is no sag anywhere in its runtime and the laughs are generated by its quirky characters and their rustic nature (it carries the tradition from the previous gangster capers Sankat City and 99 - both of which I adore).

The “khandaani” kidnapper, Bhaisaab, played by Sanjay Mishra, is a delight to watch. And giving him company is Oye Lucky Lucky Oye’s Manu Rishi – the America-worshipping, small-towner Anee – who gets his dreamer yet gullible act pitch perfect. Rajat Kapoor plays the hassled NRI effortlessly – he seems made for these kind of roles only. Neha Dhupia was the only misfit – her character too unrealistic and her performance nothing to write home about. Amol Gupte carries from where he left off in Kaminey, a natural gang leader.

The movie holds your attention well for its entire runtime and the ending is not quite what you expected – so full marks to the director for that as well. There are no songs etc to distract. A solid effort by debutante director Subhash Kapoor, but left an aftertaste very similar to Sankat City etc. If it was not preceded by the above mentioned movies, I would have rated it a little higher. And others, who haven’t watched those movies will definitely have a lot of fun watching Phas Gaye Re Obama

3 star

PS - Even after watching the movie, I did not quite understand the title, although there are definitely a lot of Obama references in the movie

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