Deep Jagdeep Singh
Story/Screenplay: Gippy Grewal | Dailogues: Rana Ranbir
Director: Baljit Singh Deo
Cast: Gippy Grewal, Sonam Bajwa, Rana Ranbir, Karamjit Anmol, Jaggi Singh, BN Sharma
Manje Bistre (cots and mattresses) is pure entertainment. A sweet love story developing at the backdrop of panoramic week long Desi Punjabi wedding of 90s condensed into 132 minutes of a roller coaster ride.
A young happy go lucky kind of a villager boy Sukhi (Gippy Grewal) reaches his mamaji’s to help with the arrangements of the upcoming wedding of his cousin Bholi (Sara Gurpal), where he stumbles upon Rano (Sonam Bajwa) and falls for her instantly. She wants to follow her heart but circumstances are not in her favor. Will Sukhi win her heart? How he will turn the circumstances in his favor forms the rest of the story.
The best part of Manje Bistrey, written by producer, actor, singer Gippy Grewal, is its characterization and a tightly weaved screenplay. The film takes the audience to the nostalgic ride of weeklong wedding extravaganza which was a norm of Punjabi culture where a whole village participates in the preparation and celebration. Where from match maker to halwayi, speaker wala to tent wala are the part of the family and their generations are connected with each other for decades. To display the largest panorama of traditional homely, simple yet elegant wedding, Gippy assembles the best cast from the industry and put them into the most suitable skin of characters that makes Manje Bistre a real fun fair. Perfect timing, subtle punch lines laced with dominantly malwayi dialect (ethnic dialogue writing by Rana Ranbir) makes you go gaga scene after scene. Only after 20 minutes into second half you realize that there is now a story evolving in between. Who cares about the story if you are feeling entertained and nostalgic at the same time?
Manje Bistre is hugely an extended version of Carry on Jatta, but the positive thing is that it has no mindless confusion, no slapstick comedy, no standup chunks converted into film scenes. It is simple, raw, rustic and almost real. The fun element majorly relies upon the behavioral contradictions between the army of lifelike characters.
Why mindless comedy of Manje Bistre works even in the absence of a concrete storyline? Earthy characters and their instant connect with people; such characters are usually seen in every Punjabi wedding irrespective of being it a traditional or modern. It reminds about the warmth of various relationships and their contribution in the most important life turning event called wedding. Such emotions are almost absent in theme based fat Punjabi weddings planned by big wedding planners which gets over in just a few hours. Contrarily, set in the 90s, this wedding extravaganza is spread into almost a week long process where everyone is having fun while performing his duties. There is no smart phones, selfies or much glamour. This takes the Punjabi audience, especially NRIs, on a nostalgic ride of that culture which has vanished due to urbanization, mushrooming of monstrous marriage palaces and commercialization. A pinch of innocent romance takes the emotions up to the next level. The dream sequence featuring Gippy Grewal as Jeona Morh in Guggu Gill style is the cherry on the cake. Apart from that it delivers two simplest yet most valuable messages, one should never give up and second every problem can be solved with the intervention of loved ones and their love.
It was not easy to handle such a huge horde of talented artists and finally in the third attempt, director Baljeet Singh Deo proved his mettle in Punjabi cinema. Being an ace cinematographer, he has taken care of all the details and nuances of the atmosphere along with the placement of properties and characters therein. His execution is near to perfection and every sequence goes in such a flow that you can’t afford to take your senses off the screen.
Karamjit Anmol as Sadhu Halwayi dares to break the stereotype by going beyond his typecast image and donning a character almost double of his age. He rules throughout the film and he is the only character who interacts with almost every other character. Gippy Grewal is working hard on his acting skills and he lives up to the expectations in Manje Bistre. After Anmol he is the one who appears in almost every frame (after all he is the producer). Sonam Bajwa is hardly there, thus she got a smallest chunk to show off her talent. She looks charming and handles her character well. All the supporting cast is aptly there and everyone outperforms others.
Music is the integral part of Punjabi wedding, but Manje Bistre disappoints on this. Just the title track tries to uplift the spirit. The background score is also loud at important junctures. Manje Bistre is a predictable one time watch, full of entertaining mindless masala. If you are trying hard to beat the heat inside out and want to leave your mind to get chilled in the freezer at home you can go for it.
Deep Jagdeep Singh is a freelance journalist, Screenwriter and a Lyricist.