Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Release date:
January 18, 2019
Sourabh Shrivastava

Arshad Warsi, Saurabh Shukla, Sara Loren, Fllora Saini, Elli Avrram

Some people work for a living. Bhola marries gullible women.

Fraud Saiyaan is centred around this man who operates on the assumption that the quickest way to a woman’s heart is to ask her to marry him. Since he is the hero of a Hindi film, obviously his theory works. So effective is it that women seem to be waiting at every corner simply to be hitched to him.

When he finally comes up against a problem, he sets out to solve it by – what else? – marrying again.

Bhola’s accomplice in his serial fraudulence is a fellow called Murari who seems to be a double agent of some sort since, on the one hand, he abets the protagonist in his crimes while on the other hand he appears to be plotting the fellow’s downfall.

Male infidelity – not female infidelity – has been a subject of Bollywood comedies for decades now because, well, you know how it is: men who cheat on their wives and girlfriends are funny, while women who cheat on their spouses are social issues, I suppose. If you don’t mind a revisitation of an age-old formula, and your tastes lie in the direction of women being treated lightly, then on the face of it, Fraud Saiyaan is a project with promise. Arshad Warsi is, after all, one of the finest – even if unfortunately undervalued – actors in the Hindi film industry, and if you loved his team-up with Saurabh Shukla in 2013’s sleeper hit Jolly LLB, then of course their new film together is worth looking out for. (Warsi plays Bhola and Shukla is Murari.)

The thing about Fraud Saiyaan though is that it gives these two talented artistes little to do. Bhola’s deception is detected by one wife, and then another, and then another, and then ... yawn ... who needs sleeping pills? Warsi’s charm is hard to resist and his comic timing sometimes lifts lines that do not deserve him, but there is only so much even a gifted actor can do with a script that is running on empty.

Worse, how much misogyny is one expected to close one’s eyes to in the name of comedy? Sure, I get that a man who marries women at the drop of a hat and drops each wife like a hot brick as soon as he has stolen her money will perforce be a man who has little respect for women. The point here though is that director Sourabh Shrivastava, writers Amal Donwaar and Sharad Tripathi themselves seem to see these women as trivial objects. And so we are served an array of pretty human females with tiny waistlines and bulky bosoms heaving inside tight little low-cut sari blouses, their pallus strategically placed just so, Bhola gets to grab them and fling them down on beds at will, but not one of them has an interesting enough character graph to make them memorable.

So poorly written are the women that at one point I began to wonder whether the female actors in Fraud Saiyaan were picked by the casting director or the props department.

Never mind the hero’s attitude to women. The film’s own attitude to women is exemplified by the shooting of the Chamma Chamma remix featuring Elli Avrram in microscopic clothing, executing a series of crude dance moves. The issue here is not the choreography or her outfit – the issue is, the human being in the outfit matters so little to the director that he has chosen graceless, awkward attire for a graceless, awkward dancer who seems to have been deemed irrelevant beyond her willingness to be semi-nude in the scene. Avrram’s limitations as a dancer are underlined when Warsi joins her briefly on stage – his relatively fluid movements show her up for the poor dancer that she is. In comparison, Rajkumar Santoshi may claim to have delivered high art via Urmila Matondkar in China Gate where this song was originally featured.

The climax of Fraud Saiyaan reminds us of another dictum on which many Bollywood comedies rest: men who cheat on their wives are funny and worthy of redemption, while women who cheat are irredeemable, despicable, contemptible jerks. Warsi’s continuing career struggles may explain why he agreed to be a part of this formulaic, dull, misogynistic rubbish, but what is worse is that Fraud Saiyaan is a Prakash Jha Productions presentation, with the senior producer-director’s daughter Disha Prakash Jha as one of its producers. Seriously Jha-saab, why?

Rating (out of five stars): 1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
110 minutes

This review has also been published on Firstpost:

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