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Masand's Verdict: Sorry Bhai is a brave little film

Sorry Bhai is a brave little film that puts a fresh spin on the tale.

Rajeev Masand | http://RajeevMasand

Updated:November 28, 2008, 11:52 PM IST
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Masand's Verdict: <i>Sorry Bhai</i> is a brave little film
Sorry Bhai is a brave little film that puts a fresh spin on the tale.

Cast: Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani, Sanjay Suri, Chitrangada Singh, Sharman Joshi

Direction: Onir

Taking the decidedly uncomfortable premise of a man hooking up with his brother’s girl, Sorry Bhai is a brave little film that puts a fresh spin on the tale. Bumbling younger brother Sharman Joshi arrives in Mauritius with his parents Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani to attend elder brother Sanjay Suri’s wedding, and ends up falling in love with his brother’s fiancée Chitrangada Singh.

The triangle that ensues involves Sharman, Chitrangada and – no, not Sanjay who seems to wisely move on – but the boys’ overbearing mother Shabana who gets herself irreparably entangled in this awkward mess.

At the very core of Sorry Bhai’s drama is the magnificent Shabana Azmi who takes her role and immediately sinks her teeth into it, constructing a character that is all flesh-and-blood. From the little moments – like the one in which she follows Sharman and Chitrangada into the woods, only to hurt her foot before she can confirm her suspicions – to the significant ones (which include her clashes with her daughter-in-law to be), Shabana is always on the ball, and makes her character omnipresent in the movie, even when she’s not physically around in every frame.

A word of praise also for the immensely gifted Boman Irani who has a tougher job at hand – making a solid believable person out of what was probably a three-line character sketch on paper. Boman adds the right comic touch and just the perfect hint of melancholy to create an affectionate lug of a father who speaks less but delivers gems every time he does.

The plot of Sorry Bhai may be simplistic, but the film is not so much about the plot as it is about the characters, and director Onir does a fine job of writing complex, flawed characters who don’t come with any easy answers. Chitrangada’s character, for one, is a tough nut to crack – why does she appear almost unaffected when Sanjay puts off their wedding to attend to a pressing business commitment; why does she suddenly decide to pursue Sharman with such dogged determination; does she really feel no responsibility to Sanjay for what’s just happened? These are important questions all, but the answers are hard to find. Much like life, if you think about it.

Of the three leads, Sharman Joshi plays his part with such sincerity, you’re willing to look at his flawed character with renewed sympathy. The radiant Chitrangada Singh is awkward in places, but puts up a good show nevertheless, especially in her scenes with Shabana. Sanjay Suri, despite the weak characterisation, does the best he can with his role, in particular nailing the film’s one defining scene in which Sharman makes the big confession, to which he responds with shock, anger, and even a little affection.

Sorry Bhai is not devoid of faults – the film occasionally gets too talkie, and in some places a little silly too – but the film’s real charm lies in those memorable moments the director creates between his two favorite players – Shabana and Chitrangada. That’s the reason to watch this film.

I’m going with three out of five for director Onir’s Sorry Bhai. It’s a strong character-driven drama about imperfect people trying to find their own happiness in the world. Don’t miss it.

Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)

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