September 26, 2014
Jay Bhanushali, Akhil Kapur, Ashutosh Rana, Suneil Shetty, Tia Bajpai, Sasha Agha
Desi Kattey is the most unwittingly amusing film to emerge from Bollywood this year. Director Anand Kumar – who earlier made Delhii Heights (starring Neha Dhupia and Jimmy Sheirgill) and Zila Ghaziabad (with Sanjay Dutt, Viveik Oberoi and Arshad Warsi) – has come up with a film that’s a mish-mash of various themes explored by Bollywood over the years.
The opening credits suggest that Suneil Shetty and Ashutosh Rana are the film’s leading men. As if the thought of watching approximately two-and-a-half hours of Shetty-anna on screen is not intimidating enough, comes the realisation that the truth is even worse. In reality, Shetty and Rana play supporting characters. Desi Kattey’s actual heroes are TV’s Jay Bhanushali about whom we will speak later, and debutant Akhil Kapur who does the most comical take on “intense” we’ve seen in Bollywood in recent years.
Kapur glares. He glowers. He lowers his head and looks around menacingly. He dips his voice to do a poor imitation of a baritone. He does a drunken rant that’s so bad, it’s good. And when he looks lovingly at his girlfriend/wife, it appears like he’s leering more than Prem Chopra, Sadashiv Amrapurkar and Ranjeet rolled in one. Media reports will tell you he is the nephew of veteran Vinod Khanna. After watching the film I googled him and discovered from an interview that he thinks he was “in Tony Montana mode from Scarface” throughout this film. Umm. I can visualise Al Pacino watching Desi Kattey and voluntarily entering a grave just so that he could turn in it in protest. I, for one, fell off my chair laughing at the reference. Picked myself up off the floor to write this review.
Perhaps, just perhaps, this young actor will be better with better guidance in a better-written film. This one’s too cliched for anyone’s good, even while failing miserably in its attempt to be a Ram Gopal Varma film. At first it seems like it is about inseparable friends who are like brothers, the legendary Hindi film chaddi buddies, orphans who become hoodlums. Oh boy, how many of those have we seen! In this thread, two child actors grow up to be Bhanushali and Kapur playing the characters Gyani and Pali. The boys go to work for the UP gangster-turned-politician Harishankar Tripathi (Rana). At some point it becomes a film about second chances, with the entry of Shetty who plays an ex-Army Major with an air of mystery about him that leads to nothing, and a contrived backstory about corruption allegations that destroyed his career as a champion shooter, I didn’t understand how and why. Of course there’s a romantic element in this sea of triteness: Bhanushali is paired with Sasha Agha, Kapur opposite a perennially mournful-looking Tia Bajpai. And towards the end, Desi Kattey turns into a thriller with a hilarious twist that suggests Pakistan’s involvement in some inexplicable scheme to shame India, by which point I didn’t care enough to make the effort to understand how or why.
It doesn’t feel like a screenplay as much as a desperate attempt at a complex story, with random elements chucked in to spice up the bland proceedings. Hey, it’s too sour, throw in some salt. Too much salt? Add more tomatoes. You get the picture? Good for you, because I watched the entire film and I still haven’t got the picture. Here are some important points to be noted though:
· * Don’t be misled by the fact that the music is by the usually wonderful Kailash Kher. Except for one nice-though-not-distinctive song that he leads with, the rest are a bore.
· * Ashutosh Rana is the one bright spark in this disaster. However, he needs to get past his penchant for speaking shuddh, clear, concise Hindi in his trademark fashion, irrespective of what character he’s playing.
· * Salma Agha’s daughter Sasha Agha in this film is a good example of what indifferent direction and poor written material can do to a promising actor. She was truly interesting when she made her Bollywood debut in a small role in Aurangzeb last year. Here she’s just a sideshow with painted claws that change colour in every scene, that’s all.
· * On the positive side, Jay Bhanushali, who was laughably lacklustre in his debut Hindi film Hate Story 2 earlier this year, shows some potential here. In that film, he was being paraded about by a director who clearly found him hot. He’s not strutting around in Desi Kattey, which shows him up as a rather attractive guy who is not such a bad actor after all. It’s his good luck that he’s up against Akhil Kapur and Suneil Shetty, who could make boulders look like better performers.
· * In a weird quirk that harks back to Bollywood of the 1990s and before, in all this film’s romantic scenes, for some reason lovers’ lips always stop short of meeting.
· * Desi Kattey should be played at medical schools for that one killer scene in which a doc with a brain monitoring contraption of some sort gravely points to graphs showing what we are told was Gyani’s “state of mind” while he achieved various shooting scores.
Okay, my apologies, but I can’t continue this review. I just fell off my chair again, and I’m finding it hard to type from the floor.
Rating (out of five stars): ½ star
CBFC Rating (India):
Photograph courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/DesiKattey