'Conscience is a killer' screams the tagline of Halla Bol. Sadly it's not your principles, but brain cells, that die a death thanks to Rajkumar Santoshi's dreary drama. Known for making films with a strong social undercurrent, the veteran director tackles the age-old subject of man turning a blind eye to injustice. However this time the action is set against the glamorous world of Bollywood movies, where an A-list actor (Ajay Devgan) faces the dilemma of ignoring a stranger's murder or standing up for the victim.
After the fantastic Khakee and The Legend of Bhagat Singh, it's understandable why Santoshi and Devgan would want to reunite. Together they have created some of Hindi cinema's most riveting dramas. Alas, the duo's luck seems to have run out with Halla Bol, a poor excuse for a social message movie. Davgan plays Zameer Khan, a theatre actor who hits the big time in Bollywood only to see his popularity freefall years later when he witnesses the murder of a young woman by the sons of a powerful politician and tycoon. Preferring to take the stand in court instead of keeping quiet, he faces consequence that are as obvious as the hackneyed dialogues he delivers en route.
"FAILS TO INSPIRE"
While regarded as one of the most gifted actors in India, a hunk Devgan ain't. So casting him as a heartthrob is a fatal mistake on Santoshi's part. Similarly, forcing the usually gutsy Vidya Balan to play a quivering superstar wife is a waste of female talent. More devastating, however, is Santoshi's justification for the film. A no-brainer look at the Indian public's growing outcry at controversial outcomes in murder cases involving public figures, Halla Bol fails to inspire or reveal anything a news report or documentary couldn't have gone better.
Halla Bol (Raise Your Voice) is out in the UK on 11th January 2008.