You know it's that time of the year again when Anees Bazmee releases back-to-back films within a month of eachother with a completely different starcast, different locations, sets, plot even but with the consistently stale tasteless eye for slapstick comedy, a tired and fed-up crew (proof later), a lead pair that rests solely on reputation and pseudo-cartoonish transitions inserted precisely for the purpose of reminding us that this is not a place for 'conosseurs of quality cinema' lest we fool outselves into thinking otherwise. Thoughtful, indeed.
Surely, a description of the plot and story does this review no good. Hence, keeping in tone with the Bazmee film culture (and the smartly marketed 'press show'), let us assume that the readers of this review are 5-year old kids who couldn't care less about the next wide-angle shot and dubbing gaffe. As it is, the lead actor has claimed time and again that his films are not for the critics to judge - and the box office collections only 'prove' his point. Well, 'kitta' to you too Mr Khan.
So here is Bazmee interacting with his target audience:
Okay kids, who if your favorite superstar among the Khans?
- A chorus chimes 'SALMAAAAAAAAAAAAN' (subject to movie they are watching- expect the Ra.One kids to do their thing too)
Kids, what is your favorite Salman film everrrrrrr?
- 'Donnnnn' 'My name is Khaannnnnn' 'Dil toh Pagal haiiii' 'Lagaaaaaan' 'Rab neeeeeee' ...
Er, Kids, did you like Maine Pyaar Kiya? And Hum Aapke Hain Kaun...!? What about Hum Saath Saath Hain? Free Thank You gift hamper to whoever tells me the common thread between these 3 films!
Adult voice mutters from one corner - 'Sole Propagators of annoying orthodoxy and joint-family culture? The prime reason for my uncle turning evil and trying to steal away family property that never existed? Or maybe the reason my parents disowned me because I have a beard and refused to arrange-wed a girl who is always in her Shaadi ka joda? Or wait...*mock shock* Salman was named PREM in all 3? OMG! YES!'
Security, throw that film reviewer out! I thought we were clear on the decision of not including anyone with a fully-evolved brain and slight exposure to quality cinema in this screening! BANISH HIM! (calms down) Okay kids, so how would you like it if your beloved Salman is named PREM and he lives in a nice joint family where women are respected. *pauses to folds hands in prayer* Atonement, atonement...
- Yayyyyyyy! PREM makes entry with song and dance! And beats bad guys in DISHUM DISHUM way!
Aw, you got it kids. *scribbles on notepad discreetly* Any other requests? Let's make this quick because Akki and Bobby are waiting for me with, er, head-to-toe covered Sonam, Rimi and Celina on that penthouse-cum-helipad for the climax of a film I am making simultaneously. Kids, who is the hottest actress right now who may still not steal the limelight from Salman Bhai? Think carefully...
- AAee Bachhuuuuu...Ghajiniiiiiiii girl...
-Asinnnnnnnnnn...yayyyyyy! *break out into an impromptu maharastrian style jig with vested interests of auditioning secretly for Amole Gupte's next film! Dhinka Chika Dhinka Chika...
Hmmm. Asin! Of course. *observes dance with great interest and turns on cellphone recorder* Kids, you have made me so happy today. To reward you all, I will even include cameos from all the great actors of Bollywood who have failed miserably at slapstick comedy. OKAY? *grins*
- We want moreeeee!
We don't have the money for more, kids. Thank You has cost us so much that we are actually thinking of economizing by including fake background scenes of a massive reception that introduces all our happy-go-lucky family characters in the beginning! But, *whispers* You all don't know what I mean, right? How does it matter to all of you as long as we crack jokes similar to the ones you crack in school? No?
- *Excited* We want Salllu! We want shirt off!
Yes, yes, I will definitely give you reason to cheer him on screen - complete with opportunistic Dabangg references and topless moments! *whispers* But try to ignore Asin's expression at that moment, okay? We may need an A certificate if your parents object to the scene. Please?
- Yayyyyyyy! Bazmee Unclee, make make. Can we bring mommy with us??!
Of course, children. But don't bring your daddies. They have been a very loyal fanbase till today, and it will be sad to lose them by letting the women in this film eat before the men. But such is life. If Subhash Ghai refuses to change with the times, atleast I will do so! HAPPY, all?
- *Whistles* *Claps* We want autograph of Salmannn!
Great idea. I will invite him to the *ugh* press screening and let him interact with you kids so that even the reviewers know that my films are appreciated!
- But we only love Salman in any film! Even in Dil ne Jisse Apna Kahaaa...
That is exactly why I use 'actors' like Akshay and Salman in my movies, kids! So that you all enjoy it, no matter how ordinary the writing is. Hence, I am now going to make this film to illustrate my mastery over topics that do not deal with adultery, sex and crude toilet humour. READY, KIDS?
*Notes down eagerly again* Thank you, kids. *Pauses, thinks, and again notes down eagerly*
- Welcome, UNCLE!
Interestingly, inspite of Bazmee's temporary crusade against the ill-treatment and dumbing down of women that were victims of, er, his previous 10 films, Salman proudly spurts a dialogue on the lines of 'Is duniya mein pehli baar koi aurat ne sahi baat kahi hai!' before going PO-WOW with the customary long-haired villian. Judging by the impromptu walkout staged by many female reviewers at the exact same moment, I suspect Mr Bazmee could be back to square one. Pity, though. He tried.
Mr Bazmee (the name lends him a certain Bond-style sophistication vehemently absent from his work) has gone a step further with this film, and has actually managed to make a Salman-centric film that is not entertaining - even in a hopeless way. The tacky production design and the boring kindergarten jokes only add to his woes (and ours). Needless to say, Salman fans will enjoy entering the time warp and travelling back to the worst decade of Indian (and world) filmmaking - the 1980s.
Also, as below the belt and cheap Thank You may have been, a giggle or two did happen, even amongst the purists. Ready, though, seems to confirm the filmmaker's status as a dwindling star on the brainless-masala-entertainer-for-mass-audience-maker horizon and very soon he might be left behind by the dazzling brilliance of Sajid Khan and the sheer numbers of Priyadarshan.
Also, a word on the performances. It is sad to see Paresh Rawal take on such roles and waste that famous potential of his, but nevertheless, if he makes enough money and decides to switch to sensible cinema in the near-future, it might all be worth it. There were a dozen other actors in this film, but if they expect a special mention- they may not be aware of Mr Bazmee's track record with side acts post Raja Babu.
And also... Oh forget it, this review is officially over. Much like our patience with these nonsensical comedies that only reinforce the stereotypical notion of Indian cinema being nothing brainless song-and-dance musical extravaganzas to be watched instead of the local circus acts.
PS: Totally unrelated, but I could not help but share Kamaal R Khan's (of Desh Drohi fame) quip: 'Asin has already worked with Salman, Aamir and is to work with Shah Rukh so she must work with real Khan KRK also. Good Night everyone. Asin ko kiss. '
Commiserations, Asin. Commiserations.
- Reel Reptile