Monday, 30th October 2017

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All sour, no sweet

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By Pratim D. Gupta Did you like/not like Khatta Meetha? Tell t2@abpmail.com
  • Published 24.07.10
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Mamata Banerjee must hire Priyadarshan before the next July 21 rally. Given the way her listener count is multiplying every year, the Hungama man will come in handy to train her fellow speakers on the dais. Because if Priyan can do one thing, it’s to make his cast shout out loud. Mouths open, lungs bursting and vocal chords ripping — Dolby Digital takes care of the rest. His audience? On Christopher Nolan’s menu, it’s a meal of scrambled brains. And you are not even allowed to sleep.

What does one even say about Khatta Meetha? The facts speak for themselves. It’s a remake of a Malayalam film made in 1988. So while last week we saw makers from both sides of the Atlantic trying to break new ground, Bollywood’s top stars continue to turn the clock back. By trying to play safe — the logic: a remake of a hit should be a hit — they continue to be cinematically regressive, loud and stale. God only knows when Bolly’s Rip Van Winkles will wake up.

Akshay here is Sachin Tichkule (the surname’s rough anagram is chutkule but the joke starts and ends there), a road contractor who is perennially in debt because he doesn’t get work. So he is always duping his parents and lenders but the real scamsters are his two brothers-in-law and his brother, who bribe politicians and bump off people at will. They, of course, are rolling in riches.

This is just one track where we know how Tichkule will champion morality and make his righteous parents proud. When Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Aroona Irani are Babuji and Maa, it’s a no-brainer really.

Then there is the separate bit about how Akshay was in love with a girl called Gehna (Trisha) in college but didn’t have a smooth ride. His roads always have big potholes, you see. Now, she has become the local municipal commissioner in this nondescript Maharashtrian town. So egos collide again and there’s a suicide attempt and a couple of song sequences.

Now, in the middle of those plots, there is a half-an-hour episode of Akshay winning a road roller in a court case and how it’s in such bad shape that he cannot even move it off the municipality premises. Finally an elephant — digitally created(!) — is called upon to pull the road roller away.

It’s not over yet. There is also the good-sister-eyed-by-the-evil-politician bit. Also not forgetting sudden outbursts by random characters on corruption at several levels, from the contractor to the chief minister.

In short: Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap and some more yap.

Priyadarshan takes great pride in designing his films as per the audience. He has often claimed that he is actually a much better filmmaker but he would rather make products which sell in the market. Wonder which market will feast on this bitter pill called Khatta Meetha. It’s not funny, it has nothing new to say and its treatment is archaic.

And all the problems start with Akshay himself. He may suddenly claim to be a Marathi manus instead of a Punjabi munda and hang a black umbrella at the back of his shirt collar but this is the same Akshay we have been suffering for many summers now. His freaky gestures and facial gesticulations look jaded now and his age is also showing. And it’s not a ‘welcome’ sight.

Trisha, who is a veteran of many a masala movie down south, looks very uncomfortable on Bolly turf. The lines are not clean and even the body language looks trite. A long innings in Mumbai looks difficult.

Priyadarshan should also do well to shuffle his crew around a bit. Blame it on art director Sabu Cyril that you are not sure whether you are inside the Bhool Bhulaiyaa haveli or the Malamaal Weekly house. V. Manikandan also shot Billu and you can identify many similarly canned sequences. Even the consistent Pritam uses some of his spiked-away stock songs.

All this is trivia really, given how bad the film is in the first place. No matter how loud you shout and how high you keep the volume of the background score, you cannot drown the fact that this is a Bullshit (that’s the title of the much-hyped closing credit song) movie. Till the other day Khatta Meetha used to bring back such fun memories of the Basu Chatterjee film. Today...

Last week, in Udaan and Inception we had one of the best filmi Fridays in a long time. Now, it’s back to the bad-taste-in-the-mouth movie at the theatres. Aai shapath!