It is often said that there are 2 Indias within this country. One of them is urban India, where infrastructure is developed and all facilities like electricity, water supply, sanitation etc. are easily available. But there is a part of India that still struggles with these basic amenities. Electricity shortage is one of the major problems of our country even today, even today power cuts in small towns are almost everyday. And as a result, the news of the uproar over electricity has become normal now. Director Shree Narayan Singh, who enthralled audiences with his film Toilet – Ek Prem Katha last year, has based the same issue on Batti Gul Meter Chalu, which releases this week. So will Batti Gul Meter Chalu be able to impress the audience? Or will it fail in its endeavor? Let’s review.
Batti Gul Meter Chalu is the story of a common man’s struggles related to inconsistent power supply. Sushil Kumar Pant aka SK (Shahid Kapoor), Lalita Nautiyal aka Nauti (Shraddha Kapoor) and Sundar Mohan Tripathi (Divyendu) are close friends. These three live in Tehri in Uttarakhand. While Sushil is a lawyer by profession who makes quick money by blackmailing people and turning them around, Nauti is a fashion designer and has a boutique of her own and dreams of becoming a top fashion designer. Sundar is a simple minded man who recently opened his own factory called UK Packaging. Both Sushil and Sundar love Nauti in their hearts. Nauti decides to date both of them one by one so that he can decide with whom he should get into a relationship. First she dates Sushil and spends a lot of time with him and then dates Sundar and then Nauti falls in love with Sundar’s simplicity and honesty. One day Sushil sees Nauti and Sundar coming closer and all his hopes are shattered there. He stops talking to them and leaves Mussoorie. Meanwhile, Sundar suffers a setback and the power company pays his factory an electricity bill of 54 lakhs. This bothers Sundar a lot. But at the same time he tries his best to find a solution and explains to the concerned authorities that it is impossible that they have consumed so much electricity. Due to the increased electricity bill, he would use the generator and this adds to his cost. Realizing that he may also have to sell his ancestral house to pay the dues, he approaches Sundar for help. But Sushil was annoyed that Nauti chose Sundar instead of him. Therefore, he ridicules both. When Sundar does not find any solution to his problem, he decides to end his life. What happens after this will be known only after watching the next film.
The story of Siddharth-Garima and Vipul Rawal is simple with a lot of promises made but they are not presented well. The basic premise has potential as it is very related but it is not properly exposed. The screenplay of Siddharth-Garima binds only in a few places. It has many flaws which are clearly noticed. This film reminds of another courtroom drama film and that is the film Jolly LLB series. Also, an important part of the film is Shahid’s own film Chup Chup Ke.  is similar to. There are some funny punchlines in the Siddharth-Garima dialogue. But the excessive use of words like ‘thera’ and ‘baal’ could have been avoided. In fact, if these two words were cut out, the length of the film could have been reduced to ten minutes!
Shree Narayan Singh’s direction is very weak. It had flaws, but interesting writing and any other capable director could have done justice to it deservedly. Shree Narayan did not show that much ability. There is no doubt that he has cleverly handled certain moments of the film which make the audience aware of how serious this questionable problem is. But their execution leaves many essentials unfulfilled.
Batti Gul Meter Chalu is about 161 minutes long and its first half could easily have been shortened to around 30 minutes. The opening sequences depicting the friendship of the trio are strictly fine. Things take a turn when Nauti first decides to date Sushil Kumar and then Sundar. The scene where Sushil sees Nauti and Sundar kissing looks quite dramatic. The whole scene of Mussoorie brings laughter as well as it also brings a big confrontation. The intermission point of the film is quite dramatic. After the interval, the scene of Sushil Kumar threatening the SPTL lawyer in the Lokpal office is whistle-blowing. But the real fun starts with the courtroom sequence. The scene breaks down with laughter the way Sushil Kumar grabs a soft-porn book by lawyer Gulnar (Yami Gautam) and reads it aloud. Some facts told by Sushil are also shocking. The climax of the film ideally should have been a bang, but alas it was the point of the film where the film collapses. Also, the villains in the story are not that powerful. Sushil fights with a big power company and the public supports him in this. Nevertheless, at no time did those power companies threaten or physically torture him or his family members. Things went on quite peacefully and it seems completely incomprehensible to watch.
Shahid Kapoor is one of the major reasons why the film was successful to some extent. He looks great and his comic timing will be much appreciated. In the second half, he is covered. He gives a great performance in the emotional sequences. In the opening sequence, Shraddha Kapoor looks much better and in the second half she impresses only in the serious sequences. Divyendu performs with utmost sincerity and as always gives a capable performance. Yami Gautam has a very late entry and gives a stellar performance. However, the scene in which she is molested in the courtroom may not be liked by the female audience. Atul Srivastava (Murarilal Tripathi; Sundar’s father) has some important scenes and is quite good. Mukesh S Bhatt (Upreti) gets a lot of screen time but doesn’t contribute much. Sushmita Mukherjee (Judge) tries to imitate Saurabh Shukla of Jolly LLB but it all seems coercive. Sudhir Pandey (DN Pant) is strictly fine and some of his scenes shown in the trailer are cut out in the final film. His entire track of trying to find another wife doesn’t fit the story. Farida Jalal (Grandmother) and Supriya Pilgaonkar (Bina Nautiyal) are devastated. Sameer Soni (Sanjay Badruya) looks tired and it seems as if his voice has been dubbed. Rajendra Chawla (Janak Khanduri; Officer of the Grievance Office) and Sukhwinder Chahal (Pankay Bahugana; SPTL officer who gets caught in the sting operation) are quite good. Bijendra Kala (Deendayal Gangotri Travels owner) is good as ever. Vikas (Sharib Hashmi) is not recognized while Badrul Islam (Kalyan) is good. But his track is such that the audience may find it beyond their understanding to understand its importance. Anushka Ranjan (Rita) doesn’t have much to do.
Coming to the songs of the film, ‘Gold Tamba’ is catchy and ‘Har Har Gange’ comes at a crucial juncture. ‘Hard Hard’ and ‘Dekhte Dekhte’ seem to be forced. The background score of Vijay Varma, Anamika and Liton is disappointing in the light hearted scenes but gets better in the second half. Anshuman Mahale’s cinematography is appropriate but the makers should have avoided taking very long shots of the city. Uday Prakash Singh’s production design is realistic. The costumes of Darshan Jalan and Nilanchal Kumar Ghosh are as per the requirements of the characters. The VFX of the Post House is very bad especially in the scenes shot during the day but presented as night scenes. Shree Narayan Singh’s editing could have been better and crisper.
Overall, Batti Gul Meter Chalu is an average and a one-time entertainer that has been attracting a certain segment of the audience. The film has a lot of flaws and unfinished parts but Shahid Kapoor’s captivating performance saves the film to a great extent. At the box office, the film will need strong appreciation from the people, which will work to garner audiences for the film.