Director: Habib Faisal
Cast: Aadar Jain, Anya Singh, Sachin Pilgaonkar and Mikhail Yawalkar
When a film is being produced by a banner like YRF, anticipation is bound to happen and it did happen with Qaidi Band too which is a launchpad for two fresh faces Aadar Jain, who is Ranbir Kapoor's first cousin, and Anya Singh, a London-born girl who moved to India at the age of five. It is a dream for many to be launched by the biggest movie tycoon in the showbiz business, Aditya Chopra, but off late few films under his banner aren't working for the audience and the production house is bearing a brunt of it too. Writer-director Habib Faisal, who has been a loyalist to the YRF camp with films like Band Baaja Baaraat, Ishaqzaade and Salaam Namastey, to name a few, is back with Qaidi Band which not only has a gripping plot but also has some really good performances.
Sanju (Aadar Jain) and Bindya (Anya Singh) are undertrial prisoners and fighting for their justice since three years. Jail supervisor Dhulia (Sachin Pilgaonkar) announces a cultural program to be held on August 15th for which he needs to audition singers and music composers amongst the prisoners. Sanju and Bindya, along with four others, Rufi, Ogu, Maskeen, Tatyana and Sange, form a band named Sainani. Their first song 'I am India' becomes an online sensation overnight and their band becomes widely popular.
Things go for a toss when Sanju along with Bindya and other band members plan to escape from the jail to perform in the biggest rock band competition.
The best part of Qaidi Band is its unusual storyline. Since it is a Habib Faisal directorial, he keeps up the expectations high and delivers an entertaining film. First half not only has interesting back stories of each band member but also highlights the issues faced by the undertrial prisoners in the jail like the quality of food they eat, to earn money secretly to run their livelihood etc. Second half of the film is a gripping chase of the prisoners and jail authorities. With so much comparisons already with Farhan Akhtar's upcoming Lucknow Central, Qaidi Band hold its own space. Kudos to Habib for keeping his characters real and relatable.
While there have been films like Rock on 2, Aashiqui 2 and Banjo, where music was the backdrop, Qaidi Band is way above in its treatment. It is unbelievable to see a film like this with such talented debutants. Aadar Jain, who faced a lot of criticism even before the release of his first film for being a Ranbir Kapoor lookalike, has come fully prepared. He is too good for his debut and doesn't look he is a newcomer. He is raw, natural and spontaneous, but it is Anya Singh who just steals the show. She is even better than a lot of established actresses we have in the industry currently. A big pat on Aditya Chopra's back for spotting such a talent and backing them with a good film too.
The only drawback of the film is that few situations shown in the film are a little too dramatic. Any prisoner, who is under constant surveillance can't escape in a blink of an eye. However, there are few scenes in the film where you will get teary-eyed especially when Rufi talks to his young wife and daughter over the phone across the glass. Towards the climax, how Sanju and Bindya address the youth about freedom is an awakening call. Music of the film is soul-stirring yet forgettable, but Junooniyat and Hulchal are good.
Overall, Qaidi Band is riveting tale of undertrials which has an interesting premise with some crackling performances. Watch out for debutants Aadar Jain, Anya Singh and taut direction by Habib Faisal.