Director: Jagdeep Sindhu
Cast: Ammy Virk, Sargun Mehta, Guggu Gill
Let’s get some things out of the way – when involuntary starvation and insomnia (hunger and sleep) come together on the screen, the reason is neither depression nor poverty. It’s love. Let’s extend this generalization to Punjabi movies – when the guy on the screen speaks broken English, feels proud to have failed the same class thrice, and shifts to Chandigarh, he is the hero of the movie. In Qismat, this man is Shivjeet Singh Gill or Shiva played by singer-actor Ammy Virk. Also, whenever the hero is a village boy the heroine has to be a city girl. There are numerous other whenevers that can be listed here, but for the sake of this review let’s just call this a movie of banal whenevers.
Writer-director Jagdeep Sidhu delivers an ordinary love story, much on the lines of extraordinary love stories like Sohni-Mahiwal, Heer-Ranjha and so on. Sidhu, who wrote hit comedies like Nikka Zaildar and Nikka Zaildar 2, takes a vieux jeu route to jokes and luckily (for the producers) the bursts of laughter in the cinema point to the appetite for such humour. Even blunders like an actor wearing two different costumes in the same scene are forgiven. Actress Sargun Mehta is introduced as Baani, and some scenes later, it suddenly switches to Vaani.
The first half justifies the marketing of the movie as a romantic comedy. The second half, however, is like a buffalo that has settled in the middle of a dirty pond and has refused to jump out. First, given the unshakeable resolve of Sidhu to deliver nothing but a comedy, he seems out of his depth while dealing with grave and terminal illness-y situations. Second, constantly elaborating on the urgency of the situation makes it boring. You soon reach a point where impatience takes over and you beg for the end to come soon. Literally. Third, it is difficult to keep up with the seriousness of the situation when the narrative is inundated with songs to be danced to or cried to only because the actor of the movie is a singer.
Even blunders like an actor wearing two different costumes in the same scene are forgiven. Actress Sargun Mehta is introduced as Baani, and some scenes later, it suddenly switches to Vaani.
Dialogue wise, the movie takes a leap. But then it unmakes its own making. The writing takes three steps forward and three then steps back. Baani says ‘Mai jatt di zameen wargi, tractor tan zaroori hai’ (I am like a Jatt’s estate and a tractor is necessary) or ‘Mai tan ki meri tan jutti vi ni dardi, jatt karpain warge jado naal turda’ (even my sandal is not scared of anyone when a combine like Jatt is on my side).
Baani is on her deathbed because of kidney failure and she finally tells her father that if her end was not so soon teri dhi ne teri pagg rol deni c Gurnam siyan (your daughter would have spoiled your turban, Gurnam Singh). The dialogue is liberating. But it is undone when Shiva suggests to a dying Baani, ‘tu keeta tan ni hona kisey naal’ (I know you’re still a virgin) or ‘ehde nalo changa tan kisey gareeb de e kamm aa jandi’ (you should have been useful to at least one poor fellow before dying). Such sexual innuendos are disgusting.
If Punjabis have mastered anything through these run-of-the-mill movies, it is creating successful music and lyrics. Without songs from the likes of Gurnam Bhullar, B Praak, Kamal Khan and of course Ammy Virk, sitting through the senseless jokes and the endless suffering of Baani (the writers have clearly lifted the definition of prognosticate kidney failure from Wikipedia) would have been unbearable.