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Times of India
A strict jailer undergoes a change of mind after his son lands in trouble.
'Babanchi Shala' is being promoted as being similar to V Shanataram's classic 'Do Aankhen Bara Haath' but anyone who would go to watch it on basis of that would be disheartened. While it does have reference to the open-jail experiment of 'Do Aankhen..', that's about as far as it resembles Shantaram's film.
'Babanchi Shala' starts with a prisoner getting caught while escaping from Jailer Shrikant Jamdade's (Shinde) prison. Jamdade, a strict warden, beats up the prisoner and stands firm on his deed. Soon, he has social worker Nita (Kadam) explaining to him that the prisoners' behaviour can be changed through other means. Though reluctant to accept the solution at first, an incident in his life forces him to change his opinion. In the midst of all this, the viewers are also introduced to Mahipat (Shende), a prisoner on life sentence for murdering his wife. Mahipat is an honest man but in a fit of rage, kills his wife leaving his young daughter in a pathetic condition. Through Mahipat's longing to meet his daughter and Nita's insistence, Jamdade comes up with the idea of 'Babanchi Shala', a concept aimed at rehabilitating selected prisoners who are fathers.
Director R Viraj is not usually associated with this kind of cinema although his 'Shyamche Vadil' can be counted as an exception. So, it doesn't come as a surprise when you see the film unable to sustain despite Shinde's honest performance. Babanchi Shala has many flaws and unexplained situations that hamper its plot. The film's graph never goes up in terms of interest. All you get is a monotonous story with a few hard-hitting scenes.
Shende and Shinde have performed well but for a film to sustain only on the basis of a couple of performances is not possible.