Friday, August 8, 2014


Release date:
August 8, 2014

Akshay Kumar, Juno The Wonder Dog, Tamannaah Bhatia, Krusna, Mithun Chakraborty, Johnny Lever, Prakash Raj, Sonu Sood, Dalip Tahil, Darshan Zariwala, Guest appearances by Riteish Deshmukh, Shreyas Talpade and Remo D’souza

Animal biting man’s crotch – check.

Joke about physically challenged person – check.

Character/s rhyming lines – check.

Joke about dark skin – check.

The latest Akshay Kumar-starrer in theatres, Entertainment checks off many of the boxes on the reference list that seems to guide makers of mindless Bollywood comedies these days. It forgot one box though: it forgot to be funny. Take that from a person who enjoys slapstick when it’s well done.

This is not a film that merits deep analysis as would be evident from the storyline. Akshay plays Akhil Lokhande, a poor man in Mumbai who does a zillion odd jobs to pay his father’s hospital bills. He is shocked one day though to discover that that dad is not just a liar, he is also not his real father. The real deal was a billionaire diamond merchant in Bangkok called Pannalal Johri who cheated on his mother. As luck would have it, news of Johri’s death is announced just then and it turns out that the damned fellow has bequeathed his entire fortune to his faithful dog Entertainment. The rest of the film is split into two parts: the first, where Akhil with the help of his friend Jugnu (Krusna) tries to kill the dog so that he can claim his father’s empire; and the second in which Entertainment wins him over with his loyalty and they become best buds battling the film’s true villains, Karan (Prakash Raj) and Arjun (Sonu Sood).

Despite what I said at the start, it’s only fair to clarify that Entertainment is largely inoffensive and shorn of crudity. Although a dog does latch on to Arjun’s penis at one point, and elsewhere Jugnu gets caned in the nether region causing him to clutch that body part in pain, such instances are few and far between. Besides, at no point does Entertainment descend to the level of the yucky semen joke in Kyaa Superkool Hain Hum. Nor is it repugnantly misogynistic like last year’s Grand Masti – thank you Farhad-Sajid for that.

Unfortunately, the film lacks pizzazz. The premise of a man trying to steal a wealthy dog’s fortune has potential for humour, but Entertainment has no dum. The dog-is-a-man’s-best-friend theme too has great emotional possibilities, but that strand lacks heft here. This is surprising because debutant directors Farhad-Sajid have collaborated in the writing of director Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal Returns, Golmaal 3, All The Best, Bol Bachchan, Singham and Chennai Express, and David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor. Despite their OTT nature, these were enjoyable films. Not all were mindless either. Yeah yeah, I know some of you assume that every critic hates all Shetty’s and Dhawan’s films. You’re wrong. There are others among you who feel all critics should hate Shetty’s and Dhawan’s films. Well, go ahead – judge me.

In Bol Bachchan Ajay Devgn’s character insisted on speaking English although he clearly knew nothing of the language. “When elder get cosy, younger don’t put nosy” was his version of “don’t poke your nose…” The writers and actor were able to sustain the quirk from start to finish with the former’s inventiveness and the latter’s comic timing. Of course it was silly, but it was digestible silliness perhaps because it’s possible to imagine a man unwittingly murdering a language, even if the portrayal was unabashedly over-the-top. Jugnu’s quirk in Entertainment though requires a stretch of the imagination so Nile-long that it’s tiresome. “I Rajini-can’t believe this,” he says to signify disbelief. Later: “…iski Anupam khair nahin.” (We’ve heard that one before! Yawn!) And then: “Tu aise Pankaj udaas banke math baitth.” Umm. Got it? He’s inserting celeb names into sentences and twisting them to suit his intended meaning. Now imagine being fed this non-stop for 141 minutes! Yawn to the power of 10!

This is a pity because Krusna who plays Jugnu is clearly born to comedy. Akshay briefly shows flashes of the timing that made him fun to watch in Desi Boyz and Singh is Kinng. Those films had taut narratives. This one has weak direction, repetitive writing and insipidity throughout.

Laziness and a disinterest in finesse show up throughout Entertainment. How could the team be so lackadaisical as to pass a spelling mistake in the acknowledgements? “We are greatful to…” Is this what happens when you take your audience for granted? Early on, the dialogue writing confuses “empire” and “umpire”. Choreographer Remo D’souza, in a guest appearance, yells: “Aisi baatein karta hai jaise isne koi bada empire khada kar diya.” Cut to Akhil holding up a finger while umpiring a cricket match. The CGI team too required greater monitoring. The fakeness of those white birds flying over Johri’s mansion could be spotted from a mile even by a technomoron like me. And over-enthusiasm in colour correction has led to mansion grounds with glaringly faux-green lawns and other unreally bright shades.

Even the songs by the otherwise reliable Sachin-Jigar are unimaginatively composed and filmed. They aren’t bad, just generic. The most appealing of the tunes and scenarios – Teri mahima aprampaar featuring Karan-Arjun wooing the same woman – is a poor cousin of the triangular Kiya kiya with Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor and Mallika Sherawat in Welcome. And is it mandatory for Akshay to whack a woman’s bottom in a group dance in every one of his movies?

There have been other films about compelling human-animal relationships. My favourite from recent years is the Jennifer Aniston-Owen Wilson-starrer Marley and Me. Entertainment fails to tap into the ocean of feelings such bonds can stir up. It doesn’t deserve better than to be dismissed with clichés such as, “My work requires me to review Entertainment – it’s a dog’s life” and “Entertainment lacks entertainment”. What else does one say of a film that makes Humshakals seem like it had substance and Kick seem cerebral in comparison? Nothing, I guess.

Footnote: Tamannaah Bhatia is the ‘heroine’ of the film. The character could have been played by any other woman and it would not have made an inch of a difference. That’s how marginal the woman is to the proceedings in this film.

Rating (out of five stars): 1/2

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
141 minutes

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