Dry Day(Prime Video)
Starring Jitendra Kumar, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Annu Kapoor
Directed by Saurabh Shukla
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?