When a film ridicules the loopholes of a nation’s administration on the strength of infantile digs and shallow sensationalism to serve as some sort of eye opener, it weakens its own argument.
As it, indeed, happens in the case of Ranjit Kapoor’s Jai Ho! Democracy, a purporting political satire set on a flimsy premise.
An unsuspecting hen becomes the subject of cross-border dispute after it wanders into no man’s land triggering panic among India and Pakistan’s army posts respectively. A reluctant cook from the Indian army is pushed into playing retriever. Another from Pakistan winds up next to him. They exchange stories and songs of a shared heritage, a la Kya Dilli Kya Lahore.
When the cluck cluck reaches Breaking News-chasing media networks, the done-to-death interlude of bearded TV anchor of bombastic baritone, exaggerated emphasis-fame follows.
On the administrative front, an urgent committee is form to provide a quick fix to the crisis. Caricatures of familiar leaders, scandal-appropriate wisecracks and muted-out profanities define the first round of their interactions. Only it’s neither substantial nor witty enough to drag the shtick through its tedious duration of 96 minutes.
Between their childish squabbles, ethnic differences and aimless arguments, Jai Ho! Democracy embarrassingly erases the line between spoof and slapstick.
A couple of zingers can hardly salvage or add substance into its simplistic, frail screenplay, which doesn’t do any justice to its bright cast of Om Puri, Adil Hussain, Seema Biswas, Aamir Bashir, Grusha Kapoor, Satish Kaushik or Annu Kapoor. They do the best with what’s in hand but Jai Ho! Democracy’s flat filmmaking leaves them in a state of quandary.
Even if the idea is to underscore diplomatic futility against the common man’s resourcefulness, the diluted sarcasm of its one-sided satire, its utopian resolutions fail to convey the sting of callous reality.
At best, Jai Ho! Democracy is a hasty uptake of news channels and papers drawn into a skit that’s too short on subtext to be a realised satire and too silly to be taken seriously.