By Janak Samtani
Arman Ali (Boman Irani) has returned to Mumbai to attend his driver’s job after three months of leave, which was planned only for a month. His boss has already decided to sack him but Arman wants to describe his situation and let his boss know about the troubles that he had to go through due to which he could not return in time. Arman gets to drive his boss to Pune and on this drive he narrates the story.
Arman visits his hometown to get his teenage daughter Muskaan (Minissha Lamba) married. She is currently being taken care by his twin brother & sister-in-law (Ila Arun), who are quite notorious in stealing and taking money from people and not caring to payback. Within minutes of reaching home he is struck by the fact that there is not ample water in the town and that people have to walk few kilometers to fetch water. On venturing out he is made aware of the government scheme, under which people below the poverty line are provided capital to get their own well dug & making them self-sufficient in terms of their water needs. But, Arman is above the poverty line and has no experience of the functioning of the public civic departments. Arman needs a fake certificate to begin the proceedings. He is also given a choice if he wants to be temporarily or permanently below the poverty line.
From the point he surrenders his watch as a bribe for the fake below poverty line certificate, Arman lands up promising a percentage of the government capital to an officer at every level to clear the papers. The capital which has to be allotted through installments to Arman, has been completely allotted, with Arman having neither the capital nor his well; and all the capital going in the pockets of the civic department officers and everyone who knows how to take a good juicy bite of a well-grown handed out fruit. Arman though does get a receipt from the sarpanch (village head) stating that the water from his well has been tasted and it’s sweet, thus declaring his case closed.
Arman has lost all hope. He is sobbing & sitting on the ground marked for his well. But, Muskaan has no desire of going quiet without a fight. She finds a way of beating the cheating system in its own game & there by creating a political crisis for the ruling government.
Shyam Benegal through this satirical comedy has shown how a person who visits his hometown with a particular aim gets deviated & stuck within a system of slow, tedious & malfunctioning civic departments. He has also addressed several other issues where innocent people get dragged into the hands of the rich and powerful.
There are plenty of cameos in the film to satisfy the roles people around us play in their lives. All have supported the lead star cast very well in delivering a film which will make you wish for a clean, swift and functioning civic system not only for Arman, but also for yourself.
Verdict – Wait for it to be shown on tv or for it to come out on disc.