36 Farmhouse review: Subhash Ghai’s story outlines the difference between need and greed

But just like no theft can ever be condoned, it will be hard to find many takers for this banal family-feud drama

Rating: 1 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

“A man steals either of out need or greed”, Jai Prakash (Sanjay Mishra) tells his wife and son as he escapes with the stolen jewel from 36 Farmhouse. It begs the question, is Subhash Ghai’s 36 Farmhouse [2022] condoning theft that’s committed out of need? But then lyricist Ghai also cautions you in the song “Mind your business, aur aage nikal (and move one)”. So, there’ll be no judging but Mr. Ghai we have a film to review.

36 Farmhouse is a story conceived by The Showman, as he was once called, with Ghai also penning the lyrics and scoring the music for this Zee5 Original.

The drama is set in 36 Farmhouse, a sprawling villa located on the outskirts of Mumbai. Rich in exterior, but the interior of 36 Farmhouse is corroded by the usual family feud, property dispute. The disappearance of feuding brother Gajendra Singh’s [Rahul Singh] lawyer Aditya Mane [Pradeep Bajpai] only escalates the conflict with his elder brother Raunak Singh [Vijay Raaz]. This further adds to the complication of the ripe old matriarch Padmini Raj Singh [Madhuri Bhatia] who is tired of her feuding sons.

Amidst this family chaos, professional cook Jai Prakash [Sanjay Mishra] finds a much-needed employment in 36 Farmhouse but he soon unearths that there are more sinister things cooking here. Call it coincidence, but his son Harry [Amol Parashar], who was left jobless during the pandemic, ends up assisting Padmini’s designer granddaughter Antara [Barkha Singh] at 36 Farmhouse. The father and son duo have to mask their identifies for fear of losing their new jobs.

The characters in the 36 Farmhouse household comprise of the haves and the have-nots.  The rich siblings driven by greed, while those working here citing the ‘need’ theory to justify their actions. There are few exceptions though here – viz, Padmini, Antara and Harry whose moral compass remains intact.

Writer Subhash Ghai and director Ram Ramesh Sharma’s film shows mirror to modern society. It outlines the difference between need and greed, examining it through the haves and have-nots characters. but it suffers from a poor screenplay, uninspiring performances.  It’s not so much the banal plot, but the banal storytelling that breaks 36 Farmhouse down.

In his prime, Ghai was invincible as a story teller, director, but that was a long time ago. Ghai’s stories have perhaps outlived their course in 2022.  The veteran filmmaker has hardly made films in the millennia. His contribution has been more academic [Whistling Woods institute] than creative in the last two decades.  Age maybe just a number, but it eventually catches up even with the best.  

Ghai, the director has been off colour since Taal [1999]. He hasn’t helmed any film since Kaanchi [2014], and the poor showing of his last 3-4 films are enough to tell why he no longer dons the director’s hat. Whilst no one can take away his glorious past, but the disappointing present doesn’t hold much promise for the future for Ghai, the filmmaker.

Director Ram Ramesh Sharma is an unknown quantity. He has to his credit titles like Kaafiron Ki Namaaz [2013], Dhoop Haskar Boli [2019].  We haven’t seen his earlier works, but unfortunately, 36 Farmhouse doesn’t speak volumes of him as a director. The average screenplay translates into a below-average direction. Agreed that the film may have been jolted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but there is too much of Covid-gyaan (knowledge). After a while it feels as if Ghai and his director are perhaps blaming Covid for their cinematic shortcomings.

Save for Vijay Raaz, the other cast is largely uninspiring in their performance. Amol Parashar and Sanjay Mishra’s characters are way, too, nosy while Barkha Singh’s Antara is too sugar coated. Antara-like disciplined, near sanskari-characters – Govinda in Swarg [1990], Salman Khan in Bagban [2003] – worked their charm before but they aren’t much relatable today.  She had played the little Tina, Kareena Kapoor’s character in Mujhse Dost Karoge! [2002].  If we recall well, Barkha was impressive in a popular online marketplace ad where she shared the screen with acclaimed actor Vrajesh Hirjee. She has a fine screen presence but 36 Farmhouse doesn’t really help her to build on that promise. But neither is it fair to pass judgment so early in her career.

Amol Parashar was impressive as Bhagat Singh in Sardar Udham [2021]. Despite his sincere efforts, he is let down by the poor screenplay, dialogues. The assistant tailor to noted designer Manish Malhotra has to bear the brunt of the pandemic as he is left unemployed.  Why Manish Malhotra? Well, only Ghai can answer that.  It is a sad truth that the pandemic left many such workers jobless, scores of whom headed home on foot with transportation shut. Harry and his struggle though doesn’t resemble those hapless labourers.

Right from the beginning, one felt that the cast was handicapped by the disappointing plot, screenplay. But the likes of Rahul Singh, Flora Saini, Ashwini Kalsekar cannot be absolved of melodrama.  36 Farmhouse is weak both creatively and technically. The uninspiring music, background score, rushed editing adds to the overall disappointing experience.

36 Farmhouse’s weak structure ruins 2022’s first notable Hindi film. Deep within, even The Showman wouldn’t be proud of this structure. Sadly, redevelopment is never an option in cinema.

Watch the trailer of 36 Farmhouse [2022] below.


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