CAST & CREW
The travails of the ordinary man in the big city have been a favourite theme for Bollywood for long. If you mix with that the story of exploitation and compromises that women have to make in such cities to eke out a living, you get the substance of what “Zindagi 50-50” is about. The film marks the departure of director Rajiv Ruia from children’s animation films like “My Friend Ganesha” to social films, albeit with an adult content.
Plot: Although ultimately the film is about the lives of three women from different walks of life, the primary focus seems to be on the husband-wife duo of Birju an autorickshaw driver and his devoted wife Rupa, enacted by Rajan Verma and Supriya Kumari respectively. Rupa is one of those three women who need to make sacrifices by way of compromises in their daily lives to fulfill their hopes. The other two are Naina, a struggling actress and Madhuri, a sex worker, their roles being portrayed by Riya Sen and Veena Malik respectively.
As the focus shifts to the lives of the Birju-Rupa duo, the plot also highlights the problems of housing in the metropolis, with the couple ever dreaming about getting into government allotted home. Rupa soon realises unless she makes compromises for the evil world of men around her, her husband may be driven to taking his life in sheer desperation. While Rupa succumbs to the circumstances, Naina too fulfils the demands of the proverbial ‘casting couch’ but to no avail. As for the sex worker Madhuri, her experience is slightly different, since her entire profession is one of compromise and she was used to it. She incidentally finds Birju as someone different and likes his company, not as a client, but as a good companion. In this manner, she gets unwittingly linked to Birju’s wife Rupa, one of the three women whose lives are depicted in the movie.
Review: The major flaw of the film is that it starts on the weak (and unfair) premise that all females have to make compromises of this nature in fulfilling their wishes, and that all males are lechers always on the lookout for such human females. Worse still is the manner and tone in which this has been dressed up – with sex and sleaze predominating and acting as a convenient excuse to elaborate the theme of vulnerability and compromises that women may have to make. It is here that the film loses all credibility about the genuineness or sincerity of its avowed theme. It is indeed surprising why a successful director of well-known animation films decided to venture into this unhealthy category of filmmaking.
Star Performances: About the acting there is little that can be said except that Supriya Kumar stands out in her role of the devoted housewife, sacrificing all for her husband. Both Riya Sen, and Rajpal Yadav, although accomplished mainstream artists, seem to have been wasted in improperly developed roles. Amidst all the negatives, however, a unique composition of the musical score captivates the ears, with the strains of Toh Se Naina, rendered by Rekha Bharadwaj.
Verdict: It would be hard to find out any noteworthy moments in the film that can interest moviegoers, unless of course someone views it without any pretence, and purely for its sleaze.
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