Saturday, April 30, 2011


Release date:
April 29, 2011
Jag Mundhra
Govinda, Yuvika Chaudhary, Anupam Kher, Sanjay Mishra, Rakesh Bedi, Harish, Shakti Kapoor, Sayali Bhagat

Main tumhe samjha samjha ke samajh gaya hoon ki yeh baat tumhari samajh se bahar hai par samajhne waali baat yeh hai ki tum samajhdar ho toh phir tum samajhte kyun nahin?!

No, I’m not quoting from Govinda’s latest film. I’m just trying my hand at writing lines that are similar to the sort of cheesy, over-done dialogues populating half of Naughty @ 40. They’re the kind of lines that were hilarious back in the 1980s when we were first introduced to Govinda, lines that have now become so tired and trite that you can anticipate them from a mile in any film starring this still-remarkably-funny man.

Which is a pity because here is an actor who still has so much to offer. Even in a silly film like Naughty @ 40 (originally titled Excuse Me Please), there are scenes in which I found myself giggling helplessly at his brilliant timing and wit. But for every genuinely rib-tickling conversation that the film has to offer, there’s a “samjha samjha ke” type stringing together of formula-ridden sentences that completely kills the mood. Why oh why can’t Bollywood write dialogues that do justice to Govinda’s immense talent?

Very briefly, here’s the story. In Naughty @ 40, Govinda plays a 40-year-old bachelor in London who has never had sex. Harvinder/Harry is a shy chap whose nocturnal activities are limited to the affliction of sleepwalking, and while he’s at it he tends to follow beautiful women around in the dark. This leads to comical consequences, of course. Traumatised by the discovery that his son is a virgin, his father Laxmi Narayan Kapoor a.k.a. Allen Kapoor (Anupam Kher) takes him to India in search of a bride. Harry ultimately marries Gauri (Yuvika Chaudhary) but tragically for him, “varbanke bhi wohvarginrehta hai because Gauri is too young and too innocent to understand a grown man’s sexual desires.

The film takes passing inspiration from the Hollywood offering The 40 Year Old Virgin starring Steve Carrell. But hard-core cineastes will more likely recall in this storyline Rajshri Productions’ 1971 film Uphaar with Jaya Bhaduri and an even more striking resemblance to the 1980s Hindi film Anubhav starring Shekhar Suman as a frustrated groom, Padmini Kolhapure as the naïve bride and Richa Sharma as the village temptress. Unlike Suman in Anubhav, Govinda does not lend this film a sleazy touch which is saying quite something for a man who did plenty of cringe-worthy roles in the 1990s. Thankfully, this is a Govinda who has matured and seems to know where to draw the line in a bawdy comedy.

That’s the good thing about Naughty @ 40. The strange part is the writer’s schizophrenic output. If you can suffer the insufferable clichés in 50% of the dialogues, you will find that the other 50% (yes, I’ve measured with mathematical precision!) are quite ridiculously delightful. Note the scene in which Govinda is comparing the sexual drought in his life to the mating habits of camels, elephants, flies and dogs. Or take the utterly enjoyable puerility of gems emerging from the mouth of his father-in-law played by another great comedian, Sanjay Mishra. The old man eats only the fillings of samosas while discarding the “baahar ka” covering because his doc has told him to avoid “baahar ka khana”.

Mishra is not the only interesting supporting actor in this film. Pretty much every small role is played by a talented comedian though I wish someone would stop giving Shakti Kapoor repeated opportunities to be repugnant on screen! Yuvika Chaudhary plays Harry’s vapid wife, a role that Ayesha Takia was originally cast in. Chaudhary puts in a shrill performance but shows a flash of comic potential in her introductory scene in which she mimics her father (Rakesh Bedi) superbly.

Don’t get me started on production values in a film where little matters like continuity are dispensed with, a child actor speaks in a voice that has so obviously been dubbed by an adult and most characters from the first half simply disappear in the second. But all this is incidental because Naughty @ 40 is primarily about Govinda. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Govinda was a hot young star who delivered a string of superhits that showcased his acting and dancing skills. But then he did himself in by choosing questionable projects, letting himself go physically and acquiring a reputation for tardiness that scared off producers even though he’s almost universally considered a really nice guy. What a tragedy! This is a man who can kill you even with this offensive description of a transvestite in Naughty @ 40: “Ladki upar se aayee thi, neeche se aaya tha.” And when he danced to the song Thoda main adjust karoon, thoda tum adjust karo, despite the expanded waistline I was reminded for the nth time in my life that even today, there aren’t many men in this industry who can dance quite like Govinda! Damn you Govind Ahuja, how could you do this to yourself … and to us?!

Rating (out of five):
CBFC Rating:                       A with cuts (The Censors got the film maker to remove approximately 90 seconds of a scene in a nightclub in which Shakti Kapoor’s head first lands in the cleavage of a busty woman and then on the crotch of a gay man)
Running time:                        110 Minutes
Language:                              Hindi

Photograph courtesy:!/pages/Naughty-40/144546385607866


Release date:
April 29, 2011
Shashant Shah
Lara Dutta, Vinay Pathak, Guest appearance by I’m- not-telling-you-who  

Sometimes it pays to go into a theatre with zero expectations. Lara Dutta has not managed to make much of a mark in films in the decade-plus since she was crowned Miss Universe. And Vinay Pathak is a lovely actor who has been repeating himself of late. But all those concerns are now irrelevant – I’m happy to report that Chalo Dilli is a fun experience without being overly dramatic. Besides, it’s that rare road movie from Bollywood.

The story is simple. Dutta plays Mihika Banerjee, a high-flying investment banker from Mumbai who is on her way to Delhi. A bunch of delays and mix-ups result in her landing at Jaipur airport without realising it. She hires a taxi to drive to the Capital, but Murphy’s Law comes into operation: everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and she’s joined on the trip by an irritating chap called Manu Gupta (Vinay Pathak) as she braves a car break-down, a cockroach, oily food, lost luggage, camel and bullock carts, tractor rides, pickpockets, a journey in the general compartment of a train, a group of small-town goons, a filthy hotel called Red Tomato Palace, riots and a curfew. Along the way, Mihika learns more than she expected to from that strange little man Manu / Bhaisaab who is over-friendly, chatters incessantly, farts, belches, annoys her with his constant refrain “kaun si badi baat hai?” and yet manages to steal her heart.

A more formulaic film would have cast Lara opposite a male star who fits the traditional Hindi film definition of a hero, and you know precisely what would have happened in the end. Thank god for writers, producers and directors who make their own rules these days. Lara is an actress whose comic timing has not been sufficiently explored by Bollywood. In Chalo Dilli she nicely blends the role of a glamorous, fastidious woman of means with her inherent talent as a comedian. And Vinay Pathak is absolutely in his element, clearly enjoying the lines and situations generously handed to him by this script while also striking an emotional chord with his motto: “Jab aadmi ko rona aaye toh usko zor zor se hasna chahiye. Agar dukhon ka mazaak udaao toh woh rootth ke chale jaate hai.”   

The lead stars apart, it’s a joy to see that every tiny role in Chalo Dilli is taken care of by a gifted character artiste. The music is unremarkable but adequate, the highlight being the energetic remix of Laila main Laila featuring model Yana Gupta, which does far more justice to the original number than Pritam’s recent reworking of R.D. Burman’s Dum maaro dum. Travel buffs will enjoy the sights and sounds of small towns and villages in Rajasthan where Bollywood’s cameras rarely travel. Unlike most Hindi films set in this desert state, in Chalo Dilli, cinematographer Nikos Andritsakis captures a Rajasthan that’s more than just burning sands and a blazing sun. There is an interesting choice of guest star in the run-up to the climax: an actor whose natural charisma and good looks shine through in this brief appearance more than in many of his recent full-length roles. There’s also a neat twist in the tale that could have become weepy but does not.

Arguably the best road movie from Bollywood in recent memory is Imtiaz Ali’s Kareena Kapoor-starrer Jab We Met. At its core, that film was about positivity, optimism and following your heart. Chalo Dilli is not as impactful as JWM, and one reason could be that while it does a good job of portraying Mihika’s discomfort with unfamiliar situations and Bhaisaab’s penchant for blending in, the townsfolk in the places they pass through seem improbably un-curious about this heavily made-up woman in stilletoes and a tight skirt. Well, improbable is not impossible, and overall, Chalo Dilli is a convincing film. Mihika and Bhaisaab’s unlikely pairing is a telling statement on how it’s important to look beyond your own little world, on how broad-mindedness is not directly proportional to income levels, how we must focus on the good things in life, that it doesn’t pay to labour over every tiny inconvenience, that friendships can go beyond class divides and that even snobs can be won over with sincerity and warmth. When Mihika tells Manu in the end, “Bhaisaab, duniya ke bahut kam jagah honge jaha aap out of place honge,” you know she means it from the bottom of her heart even though her social clique may disagree.

One thing Chalo Dilli could have done without is Mihika’s looong concluding voiceover explaining what happened to every single character she encountered on the trip from Jaipur to Delhi. It might have also helped if Dutta’s hair and make-up hadn’t remained near-perfect throughout her journey in spite of all her travails. That notwithstanding, Chalo Dilli is an enjoyable film. It marks Dutta’s debut as a producer. Good choice of project, girl.

Rating (out of five): ***

CBFC Rating:                 U/A without cuts (The Censors denied the film a U certificate because the film maker refused to cut the following dialogue: “Tu woh bholi lugai hai jisko gaon ka har aadmi khet mein le jaave.” Personally, I can’t think of a single reason why a child shouldn’t see this film)
Running time:                        117 Minutes
Language:                              Hindi


Release date:
April 29, 2011
Nandita Das, Juhi Chawla, Manisha Koirala, Sanjay Suri, Rahul Bose, Purab Kohli, Anurag Kashyap, Radhika Apte, Abhimanyu Singh, Arjun Mathur

In the Book of Exodus in the Bible, Moses asks God what his name is. God replies: “I am who I am.” I was reminded of that passage as I watched director Onir’s film this week. I Am is a quartet of short stories: I Am Afia, I Am Megha, I Am Abhimanyu and I Am Omar. The protagonists are not divine, but there is an attitude that pervades each of their stories: I am who I am and you need to deal with that because despite my confusions and crises, I am comfortable with myself.

First there is Afia (Nandita Das), a young divorcee in Kolkata who wants to have a baby through artificial insemination. We then move to a community that Indian society in general, and Indian cinema in particular, rarely bothers with: Kashmiri Pandits. I Am Megha is about a Kashmiri Hindu girl (Juhi Chawla) who returns to Srinagar for the first time since her family was forced to flee. Story #3 is set in Bengaluru where a seemingly carefree and self-centred Abhimanyu (Sanjay Suri) battles memories of being sexually abused as a child. In the final chapter we meet a gay man in Mumbai whose fear of coming out to his family leads to a horrific situation.

Onir earlier directed My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal and Sorry Bhai. For me personally, Bas Ek Pal is the film in which he strayed away from his innate ability to tell realistic stories in an apparently effortless fashion. In I Am, he returns to his strengths.

There’s nothing wishy-washy about any of these accounts. Afia wants a baby but not a man in her life. Abhimanyu confronts his mother: did she genuinely not realise that her husband was violating her son? I Am Omar shows a gay man being raped in a way that won’t fit the conventional definition of that crime. And most courageous of all is the position that Onir takes on Hindu-Muslim tension in Kashmir. At one point, Megha’s childhood friend Rubina (Manisha Koirala) explodes in anger because the army conducts routine checks on their house since her brother is a surrendered terrorist. Later, listening to Rubina’s complaints about the situation in Kashmir, Megha retorts: Kis baat ki problem hai tumhe? Is the army treating you unfairly? Is India taking away your rights? Or is it because of the constant reminders that your brother is a trained mujahideen?” It’s a brave question for a film to ask in an India where we have become slaves of misplaced notions of political correctness, and where a sympathetic stand in favour of one community is often assumed to be anti- the other. In I Am, Rubina in turn asks a question that had never occurred to Megha: “Imagine what it might have been if you had stayed back and I had managed to leave?” Yes, despite all the misfortunes that befell her family, would Megha want to trade places with this beautiful young girl who is stuck in a state where life has come to a standstill and concertina wire is more visible than human beings?

Megha’s story, incidentally, is inspired by the experiences of actor Sanjay Suri who has produced I Am with Onir. Suri’s family left Kashmir in 1990 when his father was killed by terrorists. Among the many things for which Onir needs to be applauded is the decision to draw from a man’s experiences, yet tell the story of two women in a terror-torn state since it is women who suffer the most in conflict situations. Kudos is also called for since Onir and Sanjay crowd-sourced funds for this film through the online social media.

I Am is hard-hitting and unapologetic about its views. It’s beautifully acted by every single member of the cast except one star who I will discuss later in this review. And while it’s realistic, it is never dull. The songs don’t intrude on the narrative. And Onir tells the four stories with a light touch that takes nothing away from the seriousness of the issues he’s raising.

Many things are hinted at without being underlined. There is that passing suggestion of an attraction between Afia and the man whose sperm could give her a child. There’s the fact that only much after watching the film did it occur to me that two out of its four protagonists are probably Muslim. I Am doesn’t make a big deal of Afia or Omar’s religious identity unlike most Bollywood films where Muslim characters are placed in stories to make a point … either about shayari or the nawabi way of life or secularism perhaps. Rarely do you come across a Muslim who happens to be there as just another human being in the film.

Then there is the easy manner in which language flows in I Am. Bollywood usually struggles to write dialogues the way multi-lingual Indians speak. English-school-educated characters in particular are generally given lines that are written – and delivered – in an ungainly, unnatural fashion. But the people in I Am switch between Hindi, English, Bengali, Kashmiri, Kannada and Marathi in precisely the way you and I might.

The only sore point for me in the entire film was the casting of Rahul Bose in the fourth segment. Bose is a limited actor whose immobile face contrasts sharply with his talented co-stars here. I Am Omar is a chilling story, tough to watch because of its stark portrayal of sexual exploitation, but Bose’s performance dilutes much of its impact. Kashmiris in the audience may also fault Manisha Koirala for her accent but Megha and Rubina’s story is so well-acted and so rare that I, for one, have already forgiven her.

So there you have it: I Am is a sincere and gutsy film. Don’t let my praise mislead you: this is not a grand epic, it’s small and simple and that’s why it’s lovely. Take a bow Onir.

Rating (out of five): ****

CBFC Rating:                        A without cuts. Some swear words have been beeped out
Running time:                        110 Minutes
Language:                              Hindi, English, Kashmiri with a bit of Bengali, Kannada, Marathi

Monday, April 25, 2011


Release date:
April 22, 2011
Satyajit Bhatkal
Darsheel Safary, Anupam Kher, Manjari Phadnis

I think I’d like to start by saying that from this day forward, I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed for Darsheel Safary. He is such a natural in front of the camera – no over-acting, no irritating precociousness, just being. I do hope he makes the transition from cute kid to handsome man, and gives us one of those rare instances of a child star growing up to be a significant adult star too. We haven’t had one of those in Hindi films since Urmila Matondkar, have we?

This, of course, is precisely why young Safary – star of Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par – deserves so much better than Zokkomon. The film starts off seeming like a relative of Harry Potter, then takes off in an interesting and unexpected direction as the antithesis of a superhero film, but ultimately sags under the weight of its lacklustre script and lackadaisical direction.

The story goes like this. Safary plays Kunal, an orphan who is plucked out of a boarding school he loves and transported to the town of Jhunjhun Makadstrama where his rich and corrupt uncle Deshraj (Anupam Kher) runs a school in exploitative Dickensian style. Deshraj keeps the local people under his thumb by encouraging their superstitions and blind faith with the help of a dishonest baba. One day Deshraj stages Kunal’s death so that he can inherit the money left to the boy by his late parents. Kunal returns of course, but I won’t say how.

The film is unusual in the sense that Zokkomon is not literally a superhero, but the product of a brilliant scientist’s association with a regular human child. The aim is to show the people of Jhunjhun Makadstrama how science can perform seeming miracles through logical means. A plus point there in favour of the story by Satyajit Bhatkal, Lancy Fernandes and Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal. The casting director of Zokkomon too needs to be complimented for picking a bunch of child actors who are completely not self-conscious before the camera. Their innocence and charm carry the film through although time is spent on developing only one character among them – Kunal.

It’s this slack scripting that pulls the film down, in addition to repeated insertions of dull songs and glaring plot loopholes. At one point, Kunal tells his friend Kittu didi that because of Zokkomon’s appearance in Jhunjhun Makadstrama, the people have begun to shed their “andh vishwaas”; this scene comes just minutes after Kittu shows a painting of Kunal to townsfolk who scurry off in fear after telling her that the kid is now a ghost. Contradiction, no?

The scientist who turns Kunal into Zokkomon is also played by Anupam Kher. The make-up is good but his back story seems fuzzy to me. And though Kher is a fine actor, I couldn’t understand the purpose of casting him  in a double role instead of getting two actors to play those parts. If there was a profound point being made here that good and evil are two sides of the same coin, I’m afraid it was lost on me.

In any case, such profundities and the moral of the story are more likely to be grasped by tweenagers, yet the bulk of the film seems targeted at a much younger audience. The teeny tots in the hall where I watched Zokkomon let out whoops of delight every time Zokkomon went zipping around in the air, and at scenes like the one in which a small-town English teacher writes “teacher goes fartee” on a blackboard when he means “teacher goes for tea”.

So I suppose I’d recommend Zokkomon to children of eight years and below who are likely to be undemanding about the haziness in the film’s plot developments, while enjoying its special effects which are better than what we see in most Indian films. I must, however, state for the record that the caped hero’s exploits in Rakesh Roshan’s Krishh were head and shoulders above Zokkomon although Roshan didn’t have the backing of a global major like Walt Disney Pictures which has produced Zokkomon.

Note for parents: I met a tiny fellow at the multiplex’s coffee counter during the interval. “Are you enjoying Zokkomon?” I asked. He hid his face behind a huge popcorn case and replied, “Mela favoulit film hai.” The kid’s dad rolled his eyes and said: “He’s enjoying himself but I’m not. It’s just the halfway mark and he’s already calling it his favourite. We’ll have to bring him for it again, but I’m certainly not coming a second time. For the next show, his mother can come.” Vishal Bhardwaj showed us with Makdee that it’s possible for Bollywood to make a children’s film that knows its target audience but doesn’t underestimate their intelligence. With animation classics like The Lion King and Aladdin back home in the US, Disney have shown that it’s possible to make a children’s film that kids and parents alike can love. Zokkomon should and could have been much more than a film for just under-eights.

Rating (out of five): **
CBFC Rating:                       U without cuts
Running time:                        109 Minutes
Language:                              Hindi

Friday, April 22, 2011


Release date:
April 22, 2011
Rohan Sippy
Abhishek Bachchan, Rana Daggubati, Bipasha Basu, Aditya Pancholi, Prateik Babbar

Yeh Michael Barbosa kaun hai

It’s a question that occupies the mind and life of ACP Vishnu Kamath who has been hand-picked by the Union Home Minister to clean up drug-ravaged Goa. The state has been enslaved by dealers. But the kingpin is an ephemeral creature who no one seems to have ever met. Is he young or old, Indian or foreign, is he in fact a she? But the real question is, does Dum Maaro Dum have what it takes to keep us glued to our seats till we get the answer to that first question?

The story of DMD is told through three parallel tracks: Lorry (Prateik Babbar) aspires to study in the US with his girlfriend but doesn’t have the money to make it there without a scholarship; Kamath (Abhishek Bachchan) is a man battling the ghosts of his past along with the spectre of Michael Barbosa; musician/DJ Joki (Rana Daggubati) is desperate to redeem himself for his earlier failure to stand up for his girlfriend Zoe (Bipasha Basu). Tying them all together is the evil drug lord Lorsa Biscuta (Aditya Pancholi).

The film establishes each character firmly and succinctly. The actors are good; the background score by Midival Punditz is evocative of the sadness underlying the loveliness all around; and Amit Roy’s camera thankfully goes beyond the clichéd images of Goa’s beaches and churches, beyond even those traditional Portuguese homes and the roadways flanked by fields, and travels all the way up to atmospheric graveyards and the lonely patches of green in the countryside where anything could happen when no one’s watching. Till the interval comes around, director Rohan Sippy takes us along on the ride with his hands very firmly on the wheel. But his grip slackens post-interval, so does the pace, and the run-up to the climax followed by an overly elongated epilogue left me with a vague sense of dissatisfaction.

Directors of crime thrillers are all manipulating us; the trick is to keep us unaware of those manipulations so that they don’t get irritating. In DMD a couple of annoying red herrings are thrown our way while we try to figure out who Michael Barbosa is. There’s a voice threatening Lorry in whispers. It was just not disembodied enough and if I could spot the actor behind that voice, so could anyone. Then there’s the pointed look that sultry item girl Deepika Padukone throws at ACP Kamath before she disappears into a crowd. What was that about, huh Missy?

Making matters worse is Pritam’s insipid music. And I’m not just talking about one of the best-remembered songs in Hindi film history that he’s reworked into a pale shadow of itself. To be fair to Jaideep Sahni, his cheeky lyrics “Oonche se ooncha banda, potty pe baithe nanga …,” may actually have been fine IF they weren’t being imposed on a dull remix of RD’s classic.

But there’s also much to like in DMD. The characters are all well-rounded, especially ACP Kamath and Zoe. Kamath’s transformation from bribe-taker to upright policeman comes through a painful journey so well described by Lorsa Biscuta at one point. There’s one particularly deftly handled scene in which Kamath’s dead wife seems to speak to him. It’s touching, yet not maudlin. Abhishek pitches in a neat performance as the broodingly intense drug-buster, though a lot of the impact is diluted by repeated visitations by that same dead spouse which become tacky and silly after a point. There’s a scene in which Lorry angrily asks Kamath, “What would you know about family?!” We know by then that Kamath does know. But I guess because it’s assumed that we are dense, the sound of the car crash that killed his wife plays out in the background at that point.

While those irritants should be attributed to the director along with the pointless references to Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic films, Abhishek must share the blame for an entire interrogation scene he does which is woven around dad’s Khaike paan Banaraswala. Why was it necessary? Why why why?!

The character that worked best for me in this film is Zoe who, in a sense, personifies a physically beautiful yet internally scarred Goa. It’s not a large role, but it’s one that goes beyond the sexy body and endless legs that Bipasha has come to signify in the public eye. The actress shines as Zoe who makes the journey from youthful zest to bitterness and ultimate despair.

The rest of the characters too are well played
. They fit well into the Goan milieu without caricaturing Goans in the stereotypical “Hum God se church mein jaake prayer karenga” Bollywood manner. But there is a strange and inexplicable disconnect between Rana Daggubati’s personality in the film and his voice/dialogue delivery. Rana is the grandson of legendary producer D. Rama Naidu and hero of the Telugu hit Leader. The handsome star makes his Hindi film debut playing Joki in DMD. At first I assumed that someone else had dubbed for him. Then I read news reports that he has dubbed for himself. Perhaps then he was too pre-occupied with camouflaging his borderline Telugu accent (which, by the way, I find quite alluring Mr Daggubati). Either way, something’s not quite right here. If anyone felt that Rana didn’t sound Goan enough for DMD, surely an explanation for the uncommon style of speaking could have been gently worked into the script! I mean c’mon, this is a Bollywood where a Katrina Kaif has made a career for herself while playing an NRI or a phoren-returned heroine in film after film just to justify that twang! More’s the pity considering that Rana is a tall, strapping hottie and he certainly looks this part!
So Dum Maaro Dum is a stark tale of what lies beneath a picture postcard setting. It’s violent without being self-indulgently gruesome. I liked the film very much as it unspooled in the first hour. But the inconsistent treatment has ensured that it ends up as a nice film in which the second half doesn’t live up to the promise of the first.

Rating (out of five): **3/4
CBFC Rating:                       A (The producer’s rep explains that while the Censor Board didn’t ask for cuts, the I&B Ministry asked for the deletion of the dialogue: “Yahan sharaab sasti, ladkiyan usse bhi sasti aur zindagi toh muft mein hi bik jaati hai.” It has been removed.)
Running time:                        135 Minutes
Language:                              Hindi

Photograph courtesy:

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Release date:
April 15, 2011
Mrighdeep Singh Lamba
Om Puri, Deepak Dobriyal, Shreyas Talpade, Ragini Khanna

Teen Thay Bhai could have been that fun – even if mindless – children’s movie that India so rarely makes. Just look at it … a story with immense potential being told through three actors as fine as Om Puri, Deepak Dobriyal and Shreyas Talpade. But though debutant director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s film is enjoyable in parts, it doesn’t live up to the promise that its credits offer. Produced by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Teen Thay Bhai is the story of three estranged brothers – Chixie, Happy and Fancy – who reluctantly come together in a mountainside cottage owned by their late grandfather, due to compulsions imposed on them by his will. Chixie is an ill-tempered husband and father. Happy is an unhappy dentist who has never forgiven his little brother a childhood indiscretion that cost him the love of his life. And Fancy is an aspiring actor whose conversations are peppered with references to Hollywood films.

Put them together in an isolated house on the snow-covered slopes of Himachal Pradesh and you can just imagine the possibilities for some explosively funny situations. And it does work in bits and pieces. But those bits and pieces are separated by too many patches in which the director tries to compensate for the indifferent dialogue writing with some loud acting. So, each time you feel “now the film’s gonna lift off” …  “oh okay, maybe now” … the pilot fails to shift the right levers and it’s back to the head of the runway again. At places the jokes are so predictable that twice, in the hall where I watched the film, a lady yelled out her guess of what would happen next … and she was right! And one more thing: I’m not sure I wanted to live to see the day when Om Puri farts on screen, but that’s what he does in Teen Thay Bhai.

Puri has for a few years now looked completely uninvolved in many of his films, almost like a bystander watching his co-stars in motion. The good thing about TTB is that for a change he throws himself into the proceedings. The bad thing is that he serves us a stereotypically loud Punjabi son-of-the-soil with only sporadic humorous appeal. Deepak Dobriyal delivers the smoothest performance of the trio, and teams up with TV’s Ragini Khanna to give us a sweet little romantic track on the side. Khanna – who soap buffs will recognise as Suhana from the hit show Sasural Genda Phool – is as feisty and pretty in TTB as she is in SGP, though her role in the film is not substantial enough to match her television star stature. But the disappointment in the cast is Shreyas Talpade (yes, wonderfully warm and real Shreyas Talpade of Iqbal and Welcome to Sajjanpur) who hams his way through the role of a bad actor in TTB, when we all know he’s so capable of being so much better.

Maybe Talpade as Fancy with the leather jackets and pants just gave up on this film when he realised that instead of snow, the production team was showering little balls of white confetti on his back. Or maybe I saw that wrong, and it was actually snow. But it sure as hell looked fake to me.

And Teen Thay Bhai sure as hell looked to me like a film that was made for bachchas till it went all violent and gory. Yes, despite the inconsistent feel of the film, the children in the theatre where I watched it seemed highly amused by Chixie, Happy and Fancy’s juvenile behaviour, and I could imagine some of the madcap kids in my family getting kicks out of hearing Fancy say: “Aapko ghalat family hui hai. Hum to benchelors hai.” But then the director and writing team decided to throw in scenes of police torture; an extended situation involving drug trafficking; and a joke that has Fancy facing a woman on a mobike, staring at her boobs and asking, “Silicons?” Therein lies the biggest problem with Teen Thay Bhai: it’s not consistent enough for a serious film buff who doesn’t mind the occasional OTT comedy, it’s not clever enough for adults, it’s not suitable for kids. So tell me then, who do I recommend it to?

Rating (out of five): **

CBFC Rating (India):
U/A without cuts
Running time:
125 Minutes