Modicare Steals the Show in Jaitley’s Budget Raja

Satire

Modicare Steals the Show in Jaitley’s Budget Raja

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

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hursday saw the release of the new film Budget Raja, and much is expected from this version of the franchise after some dud prequels with Demonetisation Mana Hai and GST Zinda Hai. While Demonetisation Mana Hai, the horror film that only seven people understood, didn’t find any appreciation from the audience, the thriller GST Zinda Hai picked momentum at the box-office after a slow start. Producer Bal Narendra is expecting Budget Raja, the last movie in the trilogy, to be a blockbuster with mass appeal. But will it? We will know only in 2019.

Directed by and starring Arun Jaitley as Budget Raja, the film is an epic journey of one of the protagonists, Money’s travel from the rich man’s electronic wallet to the poor worker’s piggy bank in order to conquer a vicious election that is fast approaching the country’s shores. Middle Class, playing a cameo in the film, is wondering why it even exists, as it is always sidelined like women characters in Bollywood of the ’70s.

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Rumour mills were abuzz that the movie would be released in Hindi, but it turns out to be Hinglish. While Arun Jaitley predominantly speaks in English, he switches over to Hindi every once in a while, showing the same command over the language that Katrina Kaif has displayed over the years. It’s a gripping watch, with a runtime of two hours and no intervals. If you want to use the restroom, just do it beforehand. Time and Arun Jaitley wait for no man.

Movies generally tend to suffer from the curse of the second half, but that’s not the case with Budget Raja. The film is consistent – it’s slow right from the beginning. It kicks off with Bollywood’s favourite pastime – looking up to the West, as references are made to the World Bank, IMF, and Moody’s.

The makers of Budget Raja are clearly wary of Padmaavat and the publicity it received. Deepika’s midriff and Rajput pride became a national debate and with Budget Raja, Jaitley hopes to make some waves. With an eye on a mega blockbuster to be released in 2019, some scenes in Budget Raja are modified keeping in mind the plight of the Indian farmer. Jaitley had to react to the situation by disbursing Money. It is one of the stand-out scenes in the movie and the audience loved every bit of it.

While Rohit Shetty masters the art of defying physics, Arun Jaitley manages to do the same with math, claiming that farmer income could be doubled by 2022.

Some of the writing in the film is truly extraordinary: Arun Jaitley goes on to describe Demonetisation Mana Hai as “Imaandari ka Utsav”, leaving the audience gasping for breath. While the movie lacks the customary item number and action sequences like walking into the Well, there is a beautiful moment at the end where Jaitley recites a verse from Swami Vivekananda’s Memoirs of European Travels. In genius and subtle camera work, the lens slowly pans toward the producer Bal Narendra when the word “travel” is mentioned.

While Budget Raja doesn’t match the magic of Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal series in terms of action, there is the odd thumping of hands on tables every few minutes to ensure that the audience doesn’t fall asleep. While Rohit Shetty masters the art of defying physics, Arun Jaitley manages to do the same with math, claiming that farmer income could be doubled by 2022.

The bright spot in the film turns out to be the cameo by Modicare, who is a superhero to 10 crore poor families, which will be provided with health coverage of ₹5 lakh each. The role has been so beautifully executed that Bollywood has already rejected it from next year’s Filmfare awards. Another highlight of the film is the emphasis it places on women’s issues, which was also seen during the promotion of the film with the pink cover on the Economic Survey.

The movie’s cinematography is beyond excellent, and there are a lot of moments that sweep people off their feet. Especially the one where Arun Jaitley claims, “Cryptocurrency isn’t legal tender in India”. The scene was so powerful that people in the theatre started walking out so they could go home and sell their Bitcoins before they lost all their money. Many were seen weeping as the powerful moment triggered memories of demonetisation.

The film is flawed when it comes to the other protagonist, Middle Class. It seems to be there throughout the movie at all the key moments, doing the right things, but was hung out to dry by the sub-standard writing. An online campaign on Change.org has already started as we speak, seeking justice for Middle Class. #MiddleClassLivesMatter.

All in all, it is a decent watch. You may love Budget Raja or hate it – it all depends on your political alignment, economic status, and social class. We give it 3 out of 5.

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