Qaidi Band movie review: Aadar Jain and Anya Singh’s performances hit all the right notes in this musical prison drama

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Check out our review of Aadar Jain and Anya Singh's Qaidi Band.

After giving us grounded, earthy movies in Ishaqzaade and Do Dooni Char, Habib Faisal is back with another YRF movie. Based on a real-life incident (which also inspired the upcoming Lucknow Central), Qaidi Band is about a bunch of undertrials forming a band that makes them an overnight sensation. Newbies Aadar Jain and Anya Singh make their debut here. Here’s our review of Qaidi Band….

What’s it about

Sanju (Aadar Jain) and Bindu (Anya Singh) are two innocent undertrials serving time in jail along with many other such undertrials. On the occasion of Independence Day, the jail warden (Sachin Pilgaonkar) wants some of them to make a band to perform in front of a visiting minister. Sanju and Bindu are a part of this band, and their first performance impresses both the minister’s delegates and the media, the latter making them famous in the public. However this publicity is adverse to the band, as the minister wants them to continue to perform for him within the jail. On his instructions, the warden stops their bail pleas and forces them to remain in the band using threats of torture. When the band hears of a rock band festival, they see this as a chance for them to escape and make good of their freedom.

What’s hot

Unlike what the trailer told us, Qaidi Band is not a jail rock movie. Sure the band is integral to the plot, but Qaidi Band is more of a statement about the plight of under-trials serving time in jail, waiting for the court to either sentence them or set them free. But thanks to the number of cases in courts and not enough judges to work on them, many such under-trials spend months and even years in jail, sometimes for no fault of theirs. It is scary to even think how easy it is for a person to get imprisoned in our country, but highly impossible for him/her to be free. Especially if you are not rich. And that’s one theme the movie addresses well. The first half is slow, but it does a decent job of familiarising us with this problem, as well as introducing us to the main characters.

The movie picks up pace when the band performs their first song (I am India), which is nicely choreographed. Speaking of the songs, Amit Trivedi has done a wonderful job with the score, with Hulchul being the pick of the lot. Habib Faisal is known to make grounded movies with a touch of humour. Qaidi Band is a serious movie, but you cannot miss out on the occasional dose of his comic flair here and there. Like the warden asking a popular band why they are called Middle Finger. Or a judge telling a bail applicant to use Vipassana to relax in jail.

Qaidi Band marks the debut of both Aadar Jain and Anya Singh and both are quite confident in their roles. Shorn of any glamour associated with the usual debutante launchpads, both rely on their skills to make an indelible impression on the viewers. Though his voice reminds you of his famous cousin Ranbir Kapoor, Aadar carves a unique identity for himself. But his character doesn’t get enough scope to develop. On the other hand, Anya Singh gets more opportunities to shine and she makes full use of that with both her performance and body language. This is one newcomer to watch out for. In a role we don’t usually see him in, Sachin Pilgaonkar is terrific as the corrupt jail warden. Among the band members, Mikhail Yawalkar stand out with a sincere performance. Couple of scenes involving him and his wife will touch you.

What’s not

Qaidi Band has its heart in its right place, but the execution leaves a lot to the desired. Pacing issues aside, there are a lot of logic-less scenes in the movie that will make you ask how can such a thing happen in real life. Like for example, why can’t the police give the band mics to perform, and how did that band sing loud enough to let the entire crowd hear over the din? The lack of logic seeps into the second half too. A popular band wants to jam with our Qaidi Band, but they are never seen during the real performance. The idea of performing in a rock festival is a good plot device, but the way the main characters try to reach there is silly to say the least (one minor character even points this out to them). For some unknown reason, the makers also had the idea of inserting a romance between the main leads and a forced kiss in these scenes, and they were quite jarring to watch. And less said about the absurd youth uprising against the police after the rock festival, the better! A more realistic handling would have worked wonders here. Also what’s with the sudden disappearance of the foreign girl and the Nagaland chick from the band? Was it to give more focus on Anya’s character?

On a separate note, why were the band named Sainanis? Wasn’t the title a better name for the band?

What to do

Qaidi Band surely has its heart in its right place and tackles a subject rarely discussed in Hindi cinema. The music is fab and both the debutantes have done a really good job here. The execution is patchy post interval, but this Band has the potential to surprise you at quite a few places.

Our rating:

Rating:3 out of 5

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