Dry Day Has Its Moments Of  Intoxication

Dry Day
Dry Day

Dry Day(Prime  Video)

Starring Jitendra Kumar, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Annu Kapoor

Directed by Saurabh Shukla

Rating: ***

Saurabh Shukla is  not only an interesting actor, he also writes scripts and  occasionally directs them with rewarding results. I came away  from Dry Day with  mixed feelings. The mofussil politics is no more  the  pickled dish that  it once used to be. Overkill is the word that comes to mind; especially when the   routinely reliable Annu Kapoor says a line as banal as, “Politics mein gunda-gardi ke ilava bahot kuch hota hai” we know the narrative is in trouble.

Most of  the film shows that gunda-gardi is the  primary driving force in  politics , at least in the world occupied  by Gannu.  Played with  an amiable cunning by Jitendra Kumar , Gannu is a certifiable  wastrel whose wife Nirmala(Shriya Pilgaonkar) shrieks at everyone  in her husband’s family.

Admittedly Gannu does have a large extended  family.  Men and women stand around an open  courtyard, brushing their  teeth, scratching their crotch or just staring  into thin air.The town Jagodhar doesn’t seem to have too much happening. So all  the men  drink themselves  silly. The local alcohol contractor  Balwant(Srikant  Varma)  encourages the booze binges while the women get all worked up about it.

This is where a spot of Vijay Anand’s Guide comes into the picture. Gannu’s sudden swerve from  boozard to  anti-alcohol messiah is potentially  humorous. But it lacks the ironic  heft of Dev Anand’s reluctant messiah act in Guide. Also it is  never clear till the  very end whether Gannu has chosen to switch sides as a political convenience , or is he genuinely concerned about the  dying livers of Jagodhar?

What  carries us through some of the more jerky interludes in Dry Day is Jitendra Kumar’s performance. His  Gannu conveys all the confusion and chicanery of a  smalltown wheelerdealer.When his wife threatens to  abort their child,Gannu  vows to mend his ways. But is there any sincere motivation for his reformist impulses? I don’t think even the  screenwriters know.

Curiously Dry Day boasts of five assistant  directors besides Saurabh Shukla. Did Shukla  do a Gannu on his own film?

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