STORY: Set in 1985, the film is a satire on water crisis, caste discrimination and honour killing that plague a remote village in Odisha. While the ‘upper caste’ king exploits his hapless subjects, tables turn when the latter take control through their vision for agriculture and water conservation techniques.
REVIEW: The royal Singh Deo family has ruled Upari for the longest time and they haven’t been benevolent rulers. Their subjects are deeply hurt by the cruelty imposed by the reigning king’s father. His casteist mentality does irreparable damage. He throws the poor out of his village and forbids them from setting foot on his ‘pious’ soil again.
Those disowned find shelter in Bairi. Years of hard work in this village finally pays off in the form of adequate food and water supply. Upari, on the contrary, disintegrates, facing drastic water scarcity. In dire straits, the king (Saurabh Shukla) begs his ‘English-speaking’ lawyer son (Kunal Kapoor) to woo Paro (Radhika Apte), daughter of Bairi’s aspiring politician Kharu (Gulshan Grover) to regain power and lost glory.
First things first, Kaun Kitney Pani Mein must be lauded for its story book-esque narration. In a light-hearted manner, it puts forth grave issues that rural India still grapples with. Nila Madhab Panda’s unique execution refrains from giving the film a socio-activist tone. Its non-preachy execution, earnest performances and constant comic undertone hold your interest right for the most part of the film.
However, the story goes haywire in the second half. While the dashing Kunal and sincere Radhika are aptly cast, their ‘love story’ seems a tad random and digresses from the core subject.
The dialogues are crisp. Saurabh Shukla walks away with the best lines and does complete justice to them. Gulshan Grover also holds his own and impresses in his not-so-substantial role.