Friday, June 09, 2006

Phir & Chupke 

Phir Hera Pheri

From the end of Phir Hera Pheri, it looks like the producer (Firoz Nadiadwala) is all set for another sequel. The characters from Priyadarshan’s original Hera Pheri do seem to have the ability to pull off more comic capers, provided of course, good storylines can be thought up.

Phir Hera Pheri has been directed by Neeraj Vora (the dialogue writer of Hera Pheri), who has pulled out all stops to get laughs. There is a strained, almost desperate quality to the gags, but don’t go looking for sophisticated humour here, and PHP delivers money’s worth of chuckles.

Raju (Akshay Kumar), Shyam (Suniel Shetty) and the inimitable Baburao Apte (Paresh Rawal) are living in comfort from the gains of the last film, when Raju gets greedy again.

He falls for a scam that promises to double investment in 21 days, provided the amount is a crore. The three put in all their money, Raju even gets a gullible crook (Rajpal Yadav) to chip in and they hand over the cash to an earnest Anuradha (Bipasha Basu).

When the fake company vanishes without a trace, the three are back at a chawl in torn ganjis and a lisping gangster (Sharat Saxena) after them, because some of that money was his.

The scenes of their impoverishment are very funny, like Raju selling Shyam’s clothes and shoes, so he can’t go to a job interview. There’s also a hilarious gag of Raju waving a 1000 rupee note everywhere and the girl (Rimmi Sen) he is trying to impress ends up paying for everything.

Raju gets the bright idea of stealing from a bunch of hoods next door, who are planning to steal drugs and money from another gangster, and the plan goes haywire as expected, with the entire cast ending up at a circus and waking up the bored audience.

A comedy with a plot as silly as this, depends on the comic skills of the actors and the lines--here Paresh Rawal and Neeraj Vora do their best again. Baburao with his owl-eyes, whiny voice and incredible stupidity just tramples over everybody else, and the other actors are sporting enough to stand aside and let him shine. There is quite a large cast of comedians here from Johny Lever downwards, Akshay Kumar drips easy charm, and Rawal still walks over all of them.

The girls have as much screen time as an extra in any other film, but romance and music (Himesh Reshammiya’s best number Meri Zohra Jabeen is used in the end credits!) are incidental anyway. Don’t be surprised if the next installment borrows from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels—antique guns have already been introduced in part 2.

Chup Chup Ke

Since Priyadarshan’s Chup Chup Ke veers dangerously towards boring, one starts notices things that would have been overlooked if the film was more engaging.

Like Shahid Kapoor must be the only leading man—a muscular one at that—who gets bashed by everyone in the film, even by Rajpal Yadav. Though the film is a remake of Malayalam film Punjabi House, is the huge Gujarati clan of this movie a nod to the several such families on television (the Viranis should be flattered)? How can you have a Gujarati backdrop and no dandiya?

Why does everybody in the film treat muteness as a terminal disease? Don’t hit him, he’s dumb, says some character; please marry the poor dumb girl, says another. Why does a girl who loses her fiancée wear widow’s white and park herself in the dead guy’s house? This is 2006, in case they didn’t notice, not 1930-- even small town girls can get a life!

Shahid Kapoor plays a good-for-nothing called Jeet, who has so many creditors chasing him, that he thinks it is better to commit suicide and let his family get the insurance money. He is rescued by a fisherman’s assistant Bandya (Rajpal Yadav), and his boss Gundya (Paresh Rawal, playing a Bengali with a Marathi name and a Gujarati accent!) already saddled with debts leaves him with the man (Om Puri) to whom he owes money.

So Jeet, pretending to be deaf-mute finds himself in the sprawling Chauhan mansion, in a Gujarati paradise, where Bandya slogs and he plays the poor dumb bloke. So far so funny, thanks mainly to the exertions of Rajpal Yadav, who actually carries this burden with ease.

One of the Chauhan girls, Shruti (Kareena Kapoor) is also mute, and falls in love with Jeet, with her sister (Neha Dhupia) playing interpreter. Now the heavy-duty melodrama starts, with the entry of Shruti’s foul tempered brother (Suniel Shetty) and Jeet’s own abandoned family, grieving father (Anupam Kher), plus his cow-like fiancée (Sushma Reddy) and her father (Manoj Joshi).

Jeet has to decide if he wants to be part of the Gujarati clan or be reunited with his real family and doesn’t have the spine or courage to make up his mind. The end, after all the hysterics, is incredibly tame.

Maybe Priyadarshan is so used to his comedies working well, that he has lost touch with drama—remember how Kyun Ki bombed? The romance in Chup Chup Ke is absolutely insipid—sad, considering he cast real-life sweethearts Shahid and Kareena, who give off no sparks of passion.


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