Movie Review: Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar

Dibakar Banerjee had a smashing directorial debut with KHOSLA KA GHOSLA [2006]. He followed it up with worthy films like OYE LUCKY LUCKY OYE [2008], LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA [2010], SHANGHAI [2012], and DETECTIVE BYOMKESH BAKSHY [2015]. He also helmed a short ventures in anthology films like BOMBAY TALKIES [2013], LUST STORIES [2018] and GHOST STORIES [2020], besides producing the intense fare TITLI [2015]. These films helped him create a fan following of his own and now his long impending film, SANDEEP AUR PINKY FARAAR, finally releases in cinemas today. So does SANDEEP AUR PINKY FARAAR turn out to be as exciting as Dibakar Banerjee’s earlier films? Or does this film prove to be an exception? Let’s analyse.

SANDEEP AUR PINKY FARAAR is the story of a woman whose life is in danger. Sandy Walia aka Sandeep (Parineeti Chopra) works for Parivartan Bank at a very senior position. She has a fling with her boss, Parichay (Dinker) and also helps the bank get lot of investments by floating a Ponzi scheme. Sandeep gets pregnant with Parichay’s child and refuses for abortion. She also blackmails Parichay about the Ponzi scheme. Parichay decides to eliminate her. He hires a corrupt police officer, Tyagi (Jaideep Ahlawat) for this job. Tyagi gets a suspended cop, Satinder Dahiya aka Pinky (Arjun Kapoor) on board. The plan is that Pinky will come to pick up Sandeep in order to take her to Parichay’s place. On the way, they’ll be assassinated by the cops. Pinky, however, gets doubtful about Tyagi’s intentions. Therefore, he purposely gives the number of the car in front of him to Tyagi, while he’s on the way. From a distance, Sandeep and Pinky witness that Tyagi’s men finish off the occupants of the front car, mistaking them to be Sandeep and Pinky. Sandeep and Pinky then run away and become incommunicado. Sandeep requests Pinky to take her safely to Nepal in return for Rs. 10 lakhs. All cards of Sandeep are blocked but she assures that she’ll find a way to give him the promised amount. Pinky then takes Sandeep to Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand. It’s located at the border of India and Nepal. Pinky then starts finding out a way to cross the border. Meanwhile, Sandeep bumps into an old couple (Neena Gupta and Raghubir Yadav) in Pithoragarh. Sandeep tells the lady that she’s pregnant and that she needs a good place to stay. She lies that the hotel in Pitthoragarh where she is residing is dirty. The couple takes pity on them and allows them to stay in their house. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Dibakar Banerjee and Varun Grover's story has lot of potential and could have made for an intense thriller. Dibakar Banerjee and Varun Grover's screenplay, however, is dry and insipid. There’s a lot happening in the film but it’s scripted poorly. It seems as if the writers purposely made the proceedings boring. Dibakar Banerjee and Varun Grover's dialogues are fine and some of them raise laughs.

Dibakar Banerjee's direction is not upto the mark. The filmmaker has made some fine films in the past and he knows his craft. But here, he just doesn’t seem to be in form. His genius streak shines only in a few scenes like the long-drawn opening scene, shot in one take beautifully, or where Sandeep breaks down in the first half. But in most parts of the film, he falters. The first half is bearable and one expects fireworks in the second half. However, the second half is flawed and needlessly stretched. One fails to understand what’s happening at several places. This also occurs because the sound mixing is horrible. Several dialogues are inaudible. It’s shocking why the reputed makers would release a film with bad sound.

SANDEEP AUR PINKY FARAAR starts off on a thrilling note. The opening scene is filmed in one take and is almost 4-5 minutes long and the way it culminates is superb. The entry of Sandeep and Pinky in the narrative is also interesting. The scene where Sandeep breaks down in front of the old lady is moving while the scene where Sandeep and Pinky convince the old couple to let them stay in their house is sweet. After this point, the film goes downhill. The track of the corrupt bankers doesn’t really involve. In the second half, the only scene that arrests attention is when the bank manager, Sumit (Sukant Goel), attacks Sandeep. The climax is a letdown.

Parineeti Chopra is in a good form. This is unlike the roles that she’s known for but she manages to put up a convincing performance. Arjun Kapoor delivers a restrained performance and in sync with the character that he’s essaying. Jaideep Ahlawat is effortless in a supporting role. Neena Gupta and Raghubir Yadav are adorable. Dinker suits the part. Sukant Goel delivers a smashing performance. Suruchi Aulakh (Purva; journalist), Archana Patel (Sejal; who replaces Sandy in the bank), Rahul Kumar (Munna) and Dev Chauhan (Nyal; who owns Pathik International) are decent. Sharon Prabhakar is there for a second in the film.

Songs are mostly relegated in the background. <em>'Faraar'</em> leaves a mark. <em>'iPhone'</em> goes unnoticed. <em>'Maata Dharti Par Aaja'</em> and <em>'Maa Ka Bulaava Aayega'</em> are neatly woven in the film. Dibakar Banerjee's background score is minimal and nice.

Anil Mehta's cinematography is lovely and he captures the locales of Pithoragarh very well. Rohit Chaturvedi's costumes are non-glamorous and that works for the film. Aparna Sud and Garima Mathur's production design is straight out of life. Bakul Baljeet Matiyani's editing is not great. The second half should have been tighter.

On the whole, SANDEEP AUR PINKY FARAAR has a bearable first half but goes terribly downhill in the second hour. At the box office, it’ll face a very tough time to find audiences.

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