Film Review: Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho

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Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho: As senseless as the place it is set in

Bollywood seems to have discovered a new-found love with Haryana (NH 10, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, and now, Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho). Clearly, it is the new go-to place for any film that requires the portrayal of a banana state marred by corruption, inequality, superstition, illiteracy and gender-based violence.

Miss Tanakpur, along the lines of Peepli Live, tries to tell a serious story in a satirical manner. It’s the story of a village pradhan (Annu Kapoor), who accuses a young man (Rahul Bagga) of sexually assaulting his prize-winning buffalo after finding out that the young man had been sleeping with his wife. Based on real incidents, the film seems ripe to become an insightful black comedy, but what it becomes is an unsettling bore.

Genre: Satire
Director: Vinod Kapri
Cast: Annu Kapoor, Om Puri, Ravi Kishan
Storyline: A village head accuses his wife’s lover of having sexually assaulted his buffalo

Having an interesting idea for a film is one thing; executing such a sensitive topic comically is another. It requires high levels of dexterity. For a film that’s meant to shed light on the darker parts of our country that treat women and cattle alike, there’s surprisingly not a single moving scene. In an attempt to weave every conceivable social evil into the narration, the film is just full of scenes that are too banal to hold attention.

When a film is based on real incidents that are already stranger than fiction, one wonders why the makers don’t just stick to bringing to screen the incident in question… it would certainly have made for something better.

Veteran Annu is wasted in this film and his signature lines “I’m 10+2” and “don’t take otherwise” lack punch and seem laboured. Hrishitaa, who has surfaced after a long time, shows sparks of conviction but this film does little to reinvent her career. Om, who has two releases this week, seems to be heading in Samuel L Jackson’s direction, where he’ll feature in every film and care less about either. Ravi is promising as a side-kick and his comic timing will earn him a few chuckles.

The saddest part of all is how, despite the plot permitting the usage of vile humour veiled as satire, the film struggles to incite even one half-decent laugh. It’s a film as senseless as the places that it’s set in.

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