Saturday, December 14, 2013


Release date:
December 13, 2013
Gurmmeet Singh


Dimple Kapadia, Anand Tiwari, Manu Rishi, Manjot Singh

What The Fish is insubstantial timepass. The concept is unusual, but the execution is wanting. It’s not that the film is bad (it’s not) but that it’s not particularly memorable. This is the story of a grouchy Vasant Kunj Aunty, Sudha Mishra, who leaves her home in the care of her niece’s fiancé Sumit only to return a month later to discover a chudail in the bathroom but everything else perfectly in place including things that weren’t there before. She had specific instructions for Sumit: don’t use my toilet, don’t sleep in my bedroom, feed the fish, water the money plant, don’t have any guests over. He, of course, instead throws a party for a friend right after her departure and then lends the house to another friend who is desperate to bed his runaway girlfriend. That friend opens the doors to another, who further passes on the keys to someone else and so the baton-changing saga continues. What exactly happened between the time Sudha Mishra entrusted her bungalow to Sumit and the day of her return? The events are recounted to us going back and forth between flashbacks to occurrences of the previous month and the present day, with Sudha Aunty playing Chinese whisper with herself, her encounter with the chudail becoming more exaggerated each time she narrates the experience to someone.

The storyline is pregnant with promise. Considering that the house was trashed by Sumit’s party guests, how come it was so neat when Sudha Aunty got back? Has the fish become fat? How come the knick-knacks taken away by her ex-husband are now neatly stacked in their old places in the drawing room? Has a spirit taken up residence there? This is a story that could have been fun if the potential of its concept had been fully tapped. What it needed was cleverer writing, snappier dialogues in particular, pacier editing and more inspired acting. No actor is better though than the written material at hand; sadly for the ensemble cast including some with an interesting track record, the screenplay of What The Fish fails to go beyond the minimum laughs that the basic plot was bound to deliver.

And so a National Award-winning actress like Dimple Kapadia looks pretty but is reduced here to a skeletal caricature of a rude elderly relative with no depth of characterisation or performance; Manu Rishi who was fantastic as Anni in Phas Gaye Re Obama is enjoyable as the slimy property dealer who wants to seduce his friend’s girlfriend, but still a far cry from his hilarious best; and Anand Tiwari flits in and out of the film, remaining more or less untapped, although his ability to extract laughs from an audience was evident most recently in Go Goa Gone.

Unremarkable but not entirely avoidable, that’s how I’d describe this film which needed an unrelenting pace, deliberately over-the-top acting, sturdier characters and less minutes of running time to rev it up. What’s refreshing about it is that it doesn’t stereotype any of the communities represented here, whether it’s the Haryanvis or the family from the North East. The first half is far better than the second, and there are patches of entertainment to be had while watching it. The best I can say about What The Fish is that a single viewing didn’t feel like a complete waste of time, but I’d certainly not make the effort to watch it again.

One question though: when the fish will this fishing film industry give a fishing good actress like Dimple a more solid role in a fishing solid film?!

Rating (out of five): **

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
1 hours 48 minutes
Photograph courtesy: Everymedia PR

1 comment:

  1. Being a film buff, I recently bought the much critically acclaimed book The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic. Trust me, it was really, really wonderful. It enriched me a lot.