That character, Madhavi Devi, is so unbelievably stupid. She (Mahie Gill) is regularly verbally abused by her cripple of a husband Raja Aditya Pratap Singh (Jimmy Sheirgill), even in front of servants and friends, and all she can do in retaliation is fill a peg, listen to lovelorn Hindi film songs and pitifully throw herself at strange muscular men. At a certain point, one even commiserates with the crippled and cruel power-hungry husband for being married to such a slob.
Although the Raja himself is no saint; he is eyeing sweet photography-loving princess Ranjana (Soha Ali Khan) from a neighbouring province. But princess is seeing wheeler-dealer, wannabe politician, and part-time polo player Inderjit Singh (Irrfan) on the sly. Inderjit Singh, on his part, wants to take revenge on Saheb because of something their great grandfathers did and reprise his ‘kingdom’. So Princess’ father Raja-by-some-other-name-Singh (Raj Babbar), who is being blackmailed by the Saheb, advises Ranjana to go along with the engagement till hired hand Inderjit can bump him off. So Inderjit allies himself with the drunk and penniless Biwi to manipulate her into going against her Saheb.
Phew. Mahie slurs, sways, sniffs, sobs, she even dances at her husband’s engagement party, but Saheb remains unaffected. And apart from the scene where she refuses to take money from her husband’s servant, so do we. If you ask me, the film is half hour and half dozen characters too long.
Plus all the things that made the first Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster impressive — its mood, its rawness, its rootedness, its boldness, and the tight trio dynamics at its epicenter — seem much too contrived in its sequel. So much so that the crux of the plot, the Biwi’s desperation and anguish at her negligence by her Saheb, that makes all her crimes and manipulation so forgivable in SBG I, makes her almost a laughing matter in SBG Returns.
The profusion of side characters — Saheb’s right hand man Kanhaiya, his minister buddy Rudy, Inderjit’s policeman brother, minister Prabhu Tiwari, the dacoit leader — and their motivations along with an acute detailed repetitive exposition of the plot in every scene makes the film falter more than Madhavi on four pegs.
At first, Irrfan leads a straight simple plot. The actor’s so smooth and seasoned; the way he self-consciously touches his hair, adjusts his clothing and delivers his punches, makes Inderjit an utterly lovable rascal. His long ‘blue-film’ interview scene with minister Prabhu Tiwari is really funny. Jimmy and Mahie may seem to sleepwalk in their roles but Soha shows spark even with a sweet, subdued character. But that’s all in the first half. With its one-twist-per-scene, the second half rapidly spins out of control to come to an utterly deflating climax.
So a final piece of advice: If you liked the prequel so much, watch it again on DVD.