Deshmukh is thoroughly unconvincing as a shaggy musician with unwashed hair. While he displays a knack for the comic scenes, he seems uncomfortable in the romantic ones.
A film about maverick musicians from the Mumbai ghettos has the potential to inspire you, but Banjo left me exhausted. It’s one of those films where you rush to the snack counter during its interval for some candy or chips so you can get through the second half.
Banjo should ideally have been a showcase for Deshmukh to flex his acting muscles in a solo hero project, this film struck all the wrong notes for me.
Kris (Nargis Fakhri), a musician based in New York hears a song from a local banjo band in Mumbai sent by her friend, Mikey (Luke Kenny). Wanting to use them to record two singles and participate in some music festival, she arrives in Mumbai to find the band. Sent to the slums of Dharavi by her friend’s uncle for an assignment, she meets Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) and his friends, Grease (Dharmesh Yelande), Paper (Aditya Kumar) and Vajaya (Ram Menon).
At first she doesn’t know that the lovelorn Taraat and his friends are the band members she is looking for. Once she finds out their musical talents, she convinces them to record those songs while also playing at an esteemed club. However, with a jealous rival, land mafia and a lecherous studio manager involved, their musical journey is full of bumps and cracks like the narrative of the film.
If Banjo had been made by a lesser-known director, these flaws were forgivable to some extent. But Ravi Jadhav is a man who gave us Natarang and Bal Gandharva, so this mess of a film is inexcusable. While Riteish as a performer is adept as always, the idea to make him massy falls flat, especially those scenes that insist on making him look tough. Nargis Fakhri is decent, until she speaks Hindi, cry or basically has to emote.
Banjo would have been a really good entertainer, if the film had stuck to what the title had promised, instead of straying to other subplots. If you are a Mumbaikar then this is a one time watch for you.