What is the story about?
When local goon Balli Chaudhary is murdered in court in broad daylight by a mob of 200 women from a Dalit locality in Nagpur, the police, under pressure to take action, arrest 5 women for the crime. However, the Women's Rights Commission of the state decides to form a fact-finding committee, head by Retd. Justice Vitthal Daangle, who is a Dalit himself. As the police sets out to convict the women, and hope runs out for them, can Daangle uncover the real reason to why Balli was attacked?
The story of 200 women killing a dreaded strongman in court in broad daylight might seem like the stuff of fiction, but it's not. 200: Halla Ho is based on a real-life incident that transpired in Nagpur in 2004. Most of what is shown on screen is rooted in reality, and that alone could have made this revenge saga a cracker. However, director Sarthak Dasgupta, who has previously helmed the Netflix film The Music Teacher, chooses to play it too safe. He and his co-writers, Gaurav Sharma, Abhijeet Das and Soumyajit Roy, introduce the element of caste discrimination in the entire case. While certain sequences mentioning caste prejudices in society and the impact this has on victims are clearly fleshed out, it is also disappointing to see Dasgupta play it too safe and leave these themes under-explored. Also, the screenplay is dragged out unnecessarily at places, with a love story between the young firebrand activist Asha Surve and the lawyer Umesh forcibly inserted into the screenplay. It is implied that Balli Chaudhary enjoys the patronage of the police, but there's no mention about his political backing. Yet, in spite of all these flaws, the film shines in the courtroom sequences and also the meetings of the fact-finding committee. Ultimately, these are what rescue 200: Halla Ho from completely sinking, and turn it into a decent watch.
It is wonderful to see veteran actor Amol Palekar return to form. As the introspective retired judge Daangle, Palekar is in command even when he is self-deprecating. His character realizes the privilege of his position as a "retired Dalit judge" as the head of the fact-finding committee, yet it is fascinating to see his own journey as he realizes he cannot be a passive bystander and watch justice getting roughshod.
Rinku Rajguru is all right as Asha Surve, though her character is half-baked at times. Indraneil Sengupta and Upendra Limaye play police officers Deshpande and Patil, who attempt to speedily get convictions for the women without finding out the truth. Sahil Khattar is in terrific form as the loathsome Balli Chaudhary. Barun Sobti is decent as Umesh. Sushama Deshpande is all right as Tarabai Kamble, one of the accused women. Pradhuman Singh, Saloni Batra and Ishtiyak Khan are okay as the other members of the fact-finding committee.
Music & Other Departments
Prateek Nandan's background score is unnecessarily loud. Deep Metkar's cinematography is all right.
The courtroom sequences and deliberations of the fact-finding committee are impressively staged.
The screenplay drags at many places.
There are too many gory sequences, including a shot of a chopped penis.
Did I enjoy it?
Yes, most of it.
Do I recommend it?
You can give this a one-time watch for its timely messaging.