Film: Yeh Saali Zindagi (A)
Cast: Arunoday Singh, Chitrangda Singh, Irrfan Khan, Aditi Rao Hydari, Saurabh Shukla, Sushant Singh, Vipin Sharma, Yashpal Sharma, Prashant Narayanan, Vipul Gupta
Director: Sudhir Mishra
For Yeh Saali Zindagi, Sudhir Mishra dons many hats. He is the storywriter, director, and screenplay writer, and shares the credit for the dialogues with the impeccable Manu Rishi ‘Anni’ of intelligent comedy Phas Gaye Re Obama (2010).
With Yeh Saali Zindagi, just like its hatke title, Mishra presents a thrilling and hatke account of two men and the lengths they go to for love.
Yeh Saali Zindagi has romance at its core, and a lot of thrill is thrown in, too, taking the audience from the streets of Delhi to its outskirts in Haryana to Rajasthan and, finally, to a gripping climax at Mumbai’s Bhaucha Dhakka (Ferry Wharf).
The film begins at the wharf where first narrator Arun (Khan) tells the tale of his involvement with future love interest singer Priti (Chitrangda) and also introduces the audience to Khan's friend and philosopher boss Mehta (Shukla).
Priti is involved with Shyam (Gupta), abducted by Kuldeep (Arunoday) who wishes to leave the gangster dhanda so that he can win back the trust of his wife Shanti (Hydari). Shyam is the son-in-law-to-be of minister Verma, whose go-ahead is needed for the release of Bade (Yashpal), Kuldeep’s boss.
As if there wasn’t enough confusion already, there is also wannabe fashion designer Chotey (Narayanan), the stepbrother of Bade, who wants a share of the money Bade has stashed away in foreign banks. Phew!
Mind you, these are only the main characters in the film. Getting into the subsidiary ones is an uphill task.
The chatty dialogue and peppy music make Saali an enjoyable watch. Khan’s trademark underplay and the Delhi-style dialogue delivery with a generous dose of expletives thrown in enthrals the audience. You even laugh at his perspective on life.
Kuldeep, as the second narrator, isn't as effective as Arun, but as an actor Arunoday appears less wooden than he did in Aisha and Mirch (2010). It is refreshing to watch him play with guns and his girl at the same time.
The attractive Chitrangda delivers a great performance and has fantastic screen presence. Not once does she look artificial while portraying the abducted singer. 'Kallu Mama' Shukla is delightful as always.
Music directors Nishat Khan and Abhishek Ray churn out a fantastic score that complements various moods of Saali. We hear the title song, written by Mishra himself, as a slow song and also a pacy number at different points in the movie. The background score is engaging.
The shifting of scenes between various cities gets confusing and even annoying at times. There are so many people in Yeh Saali Zindagi that after a point of time you start wondering who’s missing. The numerous locations and heavily populated star-cast make it difficult for the audience to fathom the story. It seems as if the filmmaker couldn't decide between a linear and non-linear narrative. A mix of both adds to the chaos of the screenplay.