Vishal Bhardwaj’s New Movie Pataakha Is Refreshingly Carefree And Rebellious

New movie Pataakha is the story of a rivalry between two ambitious sisters. It's a sizzling firecracker with entertainment from the word go. 

New movie Pataakha is the story of a rivalry between two ambitious sisters. It’s a sizzling firecracker with entertainment from the word go. 

One cannot typecast some movies into a specific box. Pataakha is one such movie. Once you open the box, the film swivels exponentially in all directions.

True to its namesake, the movie is one sizzling firecracker. But, it cheekily defies all the Bollywood cliches that come to mind when you think of the two terms ‘sizzling’ and ‘firecracker.’ That’s exactly wherein its charm lies. In an industry that is rife with formulae and cheap clones, it’s lovely to have all the rules broken in Pataakha.

Pataakha sizzles to the beats of its own drum. The movie is wildly imaginative, endearingly country in soul, and entertaining from the word go.

A legendary rivalry

The movie is an adaptation of Charan Singh Pathik’s story ‘Do Behene’ which was inspired by his sisters-in-law.

Pataakha is about two sisters whose sibling rivalry is the stuff of legends. An antithesis of their sweet flowery names, Champa Kumari aka Badki (Radhika Madan) and Genda Kumari aka Chutki (Sanya Malhotra) are two spitfire personalities continually lunging at each other’s necks, much to their father’s (Vijay Raaz) chagrin.

But it is this insane rivalry that drives Champa aka Badki and Genda aka Chutki to function at their optimal best. Fanning their fires is Dipper (Sunil Grover), their partner in crime, and the mastermind for all the mischief that happens in the movie. Then, there’s the wealthy landlord Mr.Patel (Saanand Verma) who makes desperate attempts to get into either of the girls pants. Of course, there are two loverboys (Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan) for each of the sisters thrown into the mix.

Not all girls are made of sugar and spice

Small-town is the new flavour of Bollywood, and Pataakha takes us deeper into the rural hinterlands of Rajasthan. The countryside backdrop serves as the perfect foil making a lackadaisical contrast to its turbocharged protagonists.

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The protagonists are an antithesis of the Bollywood heroine. Champa and Genda are a hyperbolic version of the everyday Indian woman. Their unwashed tresses could put coconut coir to shame, and their yellow cavity laden teeth add to the sparkle of their million dollar devilish smiles. They wear sexy on their sleeves like they were born with it.

They are unapologetic about having fun in their lives the way they deem best. If it’s smoking a beedi, so be it. If it’s getting into a mud-slinging fight with their sister, so be it. There are several attempts by the men in the movie who try playing referee and taming the two born-free sisters. And, they do manage to defuse their bombs for a while. But, what happens to them post the domestication phase is what makes the crux of the story.

There is this fiercely ambitious side to both the sisters despite their rustic roots. Champa wants to be a dairy entrepreneur, and Genda intends to become an English teacher and start an English medium school in the village. They cannot tolerate being stuck in a mundane life performing only their domestic duties post marriage and motherhood, as their unrealized ambitions prick them both hard. They yearn for their freedom to be, and pursue their goals.  

The acting is topnotch. Radhika Madan’s debut in Bollywood is impressive, both regarding her movie selection and performance. Sanya Malhotra gives me the Juhi Chawla vibes as she bowls over the audience with her charm and effortless acting. Vijay Raaz plays the harried father like a true veteran in the acting field. Sunil Grover as Dipper is wildly entertaining as he plays the literary monkey who watches all the side on the fun after instrumenting the story plot and provoking its characters. Not to forget how he is ever ready to break into a jig at the drop of a hat.

The songs composed by Vishal Bharadwaj, penned by Gulzar and sung by the likes of Rekha Bharadwaj, Sunidhi Chauhan, and Sukhwinder Singh paired with daaru desi style choreography are a riot. The remaining supporting cast plays the perfect accompaniment – Saanand Verma as the ‘tharki’ Patel or husbands played by Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan.

The movie is refreshingly carefree and rebellious. While the characters and situations are hyperbolic, certain elements are kept subtle. Humour is one case in point. It comes at unexpected junctures in elegant and understated forms. In a few scenes, the humour comes with political innuendos. Like the India-Pakistan reference to the two sisters! Or the hug between Modi and Trump! Small details like these add weight to the big picture.

The director throws several googlies at his audience. The movie has an unusual path that is laden with surprises, amusement and several WT$ moments. While some viewers might be rolling their eyes at the extremities in behavior and situations, others will laugh out loud at the outrageousness, insanity, and audacity of the director and his cast.

A master in bringing out the contrasts in a situation, Vishal Bharadwaj caps the movie with a brilliant climax. One of the best I have seen in films as yet. It tells so much without stating the obvious.

‘Mansplaining can go for a walk. Let women be free to do their own thing.’

‘Love has many languages including the toxic sibling rivalry kind. (Psstt! There’s a disclaimer at the start of the movie stating that they are not promoting domestic violence.) Champa and Genda share a unique love language that bonds and drives them.’

‘Not all girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Some girls are made of adventure, fine beer, brains, and no fear.’  

There are several such messages rolled into one that ends the movie on a celebratory note.

Everyone is having a ball in this movie – be it the director who is on fire with his passion for cinema, his extraordinary cast who spellbind you with their bindaas performances and the audience who lap it up all cheerily.


The movie shocks you at the start, then slowly lures you in, gets comfortably under your skin and grows on you much after you’ve left the theatre.

Watch Pataakha for its originality, wit, and acting. It’ll keep you entertained in ways you’ve never been before.

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Tina Sequeira

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