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Nautanki Saala  : Saala, You Fall Flat
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Friday, April 12, 2013
Romantic comedy
Rohan Sippy
Ayushmann Khurrana, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Pooja Salvi, Evelyn Sharma, Gaelyn Mendonca, Sanjeev Bhatt
Based on the French comedy Apres Vous, Rohan Sippy’s well-promoted new film adds to the downward spiral of endlessly long romcoms. A classic tale of boy falling for best friend’s girl stumbles into a clumsy mess of emotions.

The plot: Ram Parmar aka RP (Ayushmann Khurrana) prevents Mandar Lele (Kunaal Roy Kapur) from committing suicide and hence feels responsible for Mandar’s second life. He tries to fix Mandar’s broken heart by tracking down his ex-girlfriend Nandini Patel (Pooja Salvi) but unwittingly falls in love with her. What follows is a predictable turn of events where Raavanleela on stage gets comically mixed up with the drama in their lives but all of it goes for a toss.

The good: Ayushmann Khurrana impresses all the way both as actor and singer (‘Sadi gali’) but what a waste of effort. Kunaal Roy Kapur’s acting can’t be faulted but his character unfortunately irritates right from frame one.  The sets (by Saini S Johray) of the fictional play Raavanleela are impressive. Costumes (created by Priyanjali Lahiri) used for the Raavanleela characters lend a unique, modern twist to the look and setting of Ramayana. The chuckles that are strictly rationed are solely because of side character Chandra, the producer of Raavanleela (Sanjeev Bhatt) who provides a wee bit of comical relief with his superb timing. 

The bad: The bonding between Ayushmann and Kunaal doesn’t come across at all. The entire enterprise falls straightaway because its foundation – RP and Mandar being BFFs – doesn’t work at all. In fact there’s a distinct disconnect with what’s going on because you can’t help wondering why on earth RP would keep ‘nursemaiding’ a loser who has nothing to do with him. Especially when Mandar is annoyingly uncooperative and RP keeps rolling out the big bucks for him. RP even jeopardizes his own play by putting a completely disinterested Mandar in the important role of Ram which he keeps muffing up. While RP goes out on a limb, nowhere does Mandar reciprocate in any way, thereby wondering when they became BFFs. Kunaal Roy Kapur’s character is a bad extension of his Delhi Belly role. The scene where he shows off his torso is a hairy horror, not ha-ha hilarious. The kissing scene between Ayushmann and Pooja is disgustingly long. Both girls (Nandini, the bone of contention, and Chitra, RP’s live-in girlfriend) are unremarkable and not even great eye candy. Evelyn Sharma is pretty but effete as Sita.

The routine storyline offers you nothing refreshing and the screenplay (by multiple writers) spirals downwards without once going up. The dialogues (by multiple writers) are not extraordinary and the comedy doesn’t work at all. Some entertaining nautanki would’ve justified the title instead of just mouthing the word nautanki a dozen times.

The Sippys do it again. They messed up the iconic ‘Dum maro dum’ and now the blockbuster ‘Dhak dhak karne laga’ from the Madhuri Dixit-Anil Kapoor starrer Beta. Rohan Sippy, please stay away from the classics.

Overall: Mandar asks RP, “Which was the scene the producer liked in the play?” RP says, “The interval.” We agree. 

– Latika Mehta

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