Friday, January 28, 2005

Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav 

We are used to filmmakers, shamelessly lifting foreign films and almost always making a hash of them. But sometimes an inept director will have the guts to take on a comic favourite, and then you feel there should be a law against such criminal mangling of movies.

Mahesh Manjrekar picks A Fish Called Wanda, one of the best comedies ever made, and turns it into a crass, vulgar, cheap farce. And when these guys steal, they don’t just steal ideas, they steal scenes, gags and even lines of dialogue. (Sunil Shetty who plays the Kevin Kline character is even given the “The don’t call me stupid” running gag.)

Padmashree (Masumeh) goes to South Africa to reclaim a cache of diamonds stolen by her father’s partner. Laloo (Sunil Shetty), her philandering boyfriend, with whom she is fed-up, follows her there. Padma steals the diamonds with the help of local don John (Gulshan Grover) and his stuttering half-witted sidekick Yadav (Johnny Lever), both of whom are smitten by her. Masumeh is hardly a femme fatale type, but John’s hen-pecked lawyer Prasad (Mahesh Manjrekar) also flips for Padma.

The stage is set for a mad scramble for the diamonds and to decide who wins the heart of Padma. But even with a foolproof source like the perfectly written, perfectly timed original, Manjrekar gets it all wrong. And the actors are all hideously off the mark – watching Johnny Lever having chips stuffed up his nose is not a funny sight, but Michael Palin had made the scene crackle. Also, watching Manjrekar stripping or doing a dream sequence with bikini-clad women is cringe-worthy.

The real Shri Yadav makes a special appearance— what a film for a politician to appear in! Tough to find anything likeable about PLPY, except for the great-looking South African locations.


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