In this political climate, it is essential to celebrate independent voices, especially the dissenting ones. Soumitra Ranade’s remake of Saeed Mirza’s parallel cinema classic Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai (1980) is a bold attempt knowing how the original was anti-establishment and thought provoking. The original was clear about its ideology – it was a capitalist-versus-mill workers promoting Leftist morality tale narrated by the era’s dream cast (Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, Rohini Hattangadi, Avtar Gill, Sulabha Deshpande). Ranade shifts the narrative of the the film to project modern-day angst onto a system, in which, according to the film’s protagonist Albert Pinto (Manav Kaul),  is fighting with his inner demons and against the system at the same time.

Albert was once a man inside this very system. He had a safe job, a girlfriend he wants to marry (Stella, played by Nandita Das) and a house he wants to buy. His family (father, mother and a brother) place greater importance over honesty and integrity than money. But when his father gets embroiled in a financial scam for no fault of his own, Albert snaps out of his middle-class dreams. He soon becomes the outsider, often seeming to need the help of a psychiatric counsellor.

Storyline And Execution: Stella (Nandita Das) files a report with the cops when her boyfriend Albert Pinto (Manav Kaul) goes missing. The testimonials of his family and friends to the police take the viewers back and forth in time to piece together his life, the injustices meted out to him and the concomitant frustrations. Meanwhile, Pinto is on a road trip to Goa to settle scores on his first assignment as a hitman. Just as in the earlier film, it’s Pinto’s father who plays a key role in bringing out Albert’s angst.

The film is heavy on dialogue, which reveals Albert’s beliefs. Despite some comic relief, the film has overdone itself in terms of dialogue and more often it comes across as forced and unnecessary preachy. While we understand the angst that the director is trying to portray on the screen, the film comes across as a treatise, than a satire on the political system.

Ranade doesn’t venture into psychotherapy, even though it seems clear that Albert does need some help in resolving his issues .  Albert disappears, and the Mumbai police is in search of him. To settle his score, Albert is on a journey to Goa with Nayar (Saurabh Shukla), a don’s hitman and flunky. The journey reveals how cynical and embittered Albert has become, which Ranade, who has also written the film juxtaposes with Nayar’s deadpan humour. Will Albert reach his destination, and will he be reunited with Stella?

Performances: Manav Kaul brings terrific energy to Albert and that’s how he comes alive in some scenes. While Kaul does his level best to convey the seething rage within, often in long theatrical monologues and speeches, the situations leading up to his extreme frustrations aren’t grounded well.  Kaul is earnest in his demeanour, however he hangs loose without the script’s active support. Nandita Das and Saurabh Shukla are pretty competent in their roles, although this is far from being one of Shukla’s best roles and the same can be said about Das. Most other characters, especially the  several women Albert keeps seeing her in, are there to serve Albert. They are present to prove a different point of view, but they are hardly of any consequence themselves. Other than, perhaps, the professional hitman played by Sourabh Shukla. He has a ball playing to the gallery and brings alive the cynical, matter of fact counterpoint to Albert with characteristic ease. However, his connect with the hitman in the making, remains obscure and the audiences are left wondering where this unusual pair heading to.

Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai? Is anti-establishment at heart, but the execution is simply outdated and falls flat for a two hour film. The portrayal does nothing potent when it comes to the problems, most Indians already know of and contend with already. The film, isn’t able to translate the rage of an individual against the oppressive system and the prevalent corruption, into something that has been experienced in various ways by us collectively.

While, Saeed Mirza’s 1980 cult classic, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai, struck a chord with the audience, the 2019 redux by Soumitra Ranade isn’t able to translate beyond a bold attempt. The film seemed compelling on paper, perhaps, but certainly not on screen. We give the film 2.5 chirps.


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