Zee Talkies, Essel Vision Productions Ltd., Cinemantra Production and Mumbai Film Company’s Lai Bhaari (Marathi; tax-free) is the story of good versus evil. Pratap Nimbalkar (Uday Tikekar) is a much-loved man in his village because he is very noble, generous and extremely helpful. His brother and nephew, Sangram (Sharad Kelkar), lose no opportunity to cheat and torture the villagers by usurping their land. Since Pratap Nimbalkar comes in the way of their nefarious activities, Sangram and his father have him murdered. Prince, the educated son of Pratap, is also killed by Sangram as he gets down to exposing the father-son duo.
Sumitra Devi (Tanvi Azmi), the widow of Pratap Nimbalkar, is humiliated by Sangram and thrown out of her own mansion. Accompanied by a family friend-cum-assistant, Sakha (Sanjay Khapre), Sumitra Devi goes to Pandharpur where she is in for a surprise. What is the surprise?
Sumitra Devi pleads with Mauli (Ritesh Vilasrao Deshmukh), whom she meets in Pandharpur, to avenge the murder of her husband and son. Why does she ask Mauli to come to her rescue? Who is Mauli? Does he come to the village and help Sumitra Devi and the helpless villagers? If yes, what is it that prompts him to aid people he has never met in his life? If no, what stops him from helping the helpless?
Sajid Nadiadwala has penned a story which is a complete masala entertainer. It has some excellent twists and turns, which keep the audience’s eyes glued to the screen. Ritesh Shah’s screenplay is absolutely mass-oriented. He has packed in a lot of action, some emotions, a bit of romance, a good touch of mythology, comedy, drama and songs to make the film a wholesome entertainer. The screenplay is so fast-paced that it doesn’t give the audience time to think or get distracted. Of course, the emotional appeal could’ve been stronger but that’s not a major aberration. Overall, the film entertains the audience so thoroughly that the defects don’t really matter too much. There are, in fact, several clap-worthy scenes. Sanjay Pawar’s dialogues are excellent.
Ritesh Vilasrao Deshmukh does a very fine job and plays to the gallery after interval. He acts wonderfully and also impresses in the action scenes. Radhika Apte may have a small role but she shines as Kavita. Sharad Kelkar does a remarkable job as Sangram. He fills the screen with his presence, and his wonderful voice adds beautifully to his character. Tanvi Azmi is effective but she falls short in a couple of scenes in which she could have moved the audience to tears. Sanjay Khapre is splendid in the role of Sakha. He acts wonderfully. Uday Tikekar makes his presence felt with a convincing performance. Aditi Pohankar leaves a mark as Nandini. Baby Mrunal Jadhav is very cute and confident and impresses every time she comes on the screen. Maushmi Hadkar has her moments as Sumitra Devi’s maid. Salman Khan is supremely endearing in a special appearance. The dialogues he mouths are inspired by his real life and that will provide the audience a big reason to enjoy them. Genelia Deshmukh comes like a whiff of fresh air in a special appearance in a song-dance. Others in the cast provide able support.
Nishikant Kamat’s direction is excellent. He has given the film a huge canvas and his narration keeps the viewers engrossed all through. He could’ve handled the emotional scenes with more sensitivity, though. Ajay-Atul’s music is very good. The ‘Mauli’ song is terrific. A couple of other songs are also appealing. Guru Thakur and Ajay-Atul’s lyrics are good. Sameer Phaterpekar deserves distinction marks for his extraordinary background music. Sanjay Memane has shot the film just too beautifully. His cinematography is truly remarkable. His capturing of the scenes of the Pandharpur pilgrimage is outstanding. Arif Shaikh’s editing is sharp.
On the whole, Lai Bhaari is an excellent entertainer and will prove to be a richly rewarding film despite being a very costly one (investment is about Rs. 9 crore). Sureshot hit!