Saturday, January 4, 2014


Release date:
January 3, 2014
Samir Tewari


Arshad Warsi, Soha Ali Khan, Himani Shivpuri, Vijay Raaz, Jaaved Jaaferi, Shakti Kapoor, Ranjeet, Inexplicable guest appearance by Kunal Khemu

Maut, potty aur Carlos kahi bhi, kabhi bhi aa sakte hai” is the line with which we are introduced to the primary villain in director Samir Tewari’s Mr Joe B. Carvalho. Hmm okay, so perhaps this unintended ode to incontinence will lead us to a child-oriented, juvenile, farts-and-faeces comedy, you think? Then the title comes to mind and the worry surfaces that this will turn out to be Grand Masti-style, adult-oriented juvenile torture, with the words “jo bhi karva lo” – a play on “Joe B. Carvalho” – being repeated ad nauseam just like the names of GM’s three leading ladies, Rose, Mary and Marlo were said repeatedly in precisely that order, without the conjunction, to play on the resemblance to “roz meri maar lo” (actually, Joe B. Carvalho is much cleverer because it’s a real name whereas Marlo is not).

As it turns out, Mr Joe B. Carvalho is neither A material all the way, nor PG or G. Whatever Grand Masti’s faults may have been, it has to be said that it knew where it was headed and it stuck to its guns all the way. Joe, on the other hand, is unable to hold up in any particular direction. It could have been a foolish yet fun farce filled with unrelenting nonsense. At places it is actually quite ridiculously, stupidly riotous. Unfortunately, those places are so few and far between that most of the film is a desperately-trying-to-be-funny yawn.

Sample this scene in which a certain Khurana (Shakti Kapoor) calls Carvalho over to his house for a chat. Carvalho is a detective by profession. Says Khurana: “Mere paas tumhare liye ek case hai.” Carvalho: “Briefcase?” Khurana: “Nahin, brief nahin, kaafi bada hai.”

There really isn’t any potty talk beyond the line I quoted at the start of this review. No adult jokes either, except a couple of limp gags involving a fireworks factory owner played by the old-time villain Ranjeet wearing pink pants and trying to make a pass at Carvalho.

Despite the short shrift they often get from critics, the truth is that an effective nonsensical comedy is not easy to write or direct. In Mr Joe B. Carvalho, the writing is too inconsistent, the direction too weak and the acting too lacklustre for it to add up to anything much.

This is a pity because Arshad Warsi is just the kind of actor who has the ability to pull off a line as silly as, “Tumhara pyaar ek underwear ki tarah nikla, jiska elastic ek na ek din dheela padh jaata hai,” which explains why he delivers most of the film’s occasional laughs. Vijay Raaz – another great comedian – is given little to do in this film, but still manages one killer drunken scene where he whirls around a room like a dervish. Their co-star Soha Ali Khan though seems too stiff-necked for comedy. And the rest of the cast are a drag. As is the story.

It’s a measure of how poor the writing is that I can’t clearly remember what that story is. I figured that Carvalho (Warsi) is a mediocre, Bengaluru-based jaasoos who was dumped by his girlfriend Shantipriya Phadnis (Khan). Carvalho stays with his Mummy (Himani Shivpuri) who is blind and has a massive bum, both of which are meant to be sources of humour. Somewhere in the middle of this muddle is a black-skinned chap called General Kopa Bhalerao Kabana who is Bollywood’s idea of ‘African’. He’s angry with a woman because he thought she was in love with him though she was not. He calls a meeting of several gangsters to tell them he’s not hiring them. Instead, he’s hiring a fellow in drag called Carlos (Jaaved Jaaferi), he of the potty-flavoured dialogue. And then for some reason everybody seems to be trying to kill everybody else, though I can’t for the life of me remember why.

Elsewhere, Shantipriya puts on a blue bikini. Like comedy, sexiness too is not Ms Khan’s strength. In a nightclub she dances to a song that goes, “Par late night party mein, I hate chumma chaati”, which might have been amusing coming from a more unrestrained comedian. Unfortunately, she’s not the actor for it.

From the lead couple’s relationship emerges an unintended piece of wit: in a conversation between the two, he specifies that she is three years his junior. Ahem! The Internet informs me that the two actors are 10 years apart in age, but more to the point, the wonderfully talented Mr Warsi looks unmistakably like a senior citizen in comparison with the wisp of a girl that Ms Khan appears to be. This would have mattered less if there was a spark between them. Sadly, there is not.  

The best actors in the world need solid written material to help them shine. Warsi has had the Munnabhai films and just last year, Jolly LLB; Raaz had Monsoon Wedding and in 2012, Delhi Belly. Fortunately then, we’ve seen them at their best. Unfortunately, that means we know they’re short-changing themselves with sub-par films like this one. 

Slapstick jokes need not be logical, but they must be built around a slightly coherent storyline; and the humour must sustain itself. This film does neither. You see, unlike “maut, potty aur Carlos”, humour aur hansi kahi bhi nahin aa sakte hai; uske liye good writing ki zaroorat hai.

Rating (out of five): * (3/4th star for Warsi, 1/4th for Raaz, everything else deserves 0)

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
130 minutes

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