Thursday, March 23, 2006

Malamaal Weekly**

I like Priyadarshan. He has made one of the most under-rated flick of our times - Gardish - in 1993, and I think that movie is his best effort by a distance. I also liked his Doli Saja Ke Rakhna, especially the performance of Akshaye Khanna and the climax of the movie, though in hindsight the liking was more a function of the life-cycle I was in when I watched the movie in my college days.

With Hera Pheri, Priyadarshan chanced upon two successful formula - the situational comedy, and Paresh Rawal in a key if not central role in that comedy. He repeated the formula in a more complex and possibly better fashion in Hungama, even if the box-office and the critics did not agree with me. The third rendition was Hulchul, with more populist and whistle-blowing measures like a drenched and scantily-clad Kareena Kapoor thrown in (boy is she hot!). However, the movie itself was a very insipid affair, never really taking off and just raising a couple of gags extremely sporadically.

His last comedy was Garam Masala, a movie I caught only on cable and am thankful for the same. From whatever little I saw of it, it was an absolute disaster, and only a moron can call it funny (but it was a box-office success). His other movie released at the same time, Kyonki.., was intended as a serious emotional movie (a remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest after all), but according to grapevine, was more funny that heart-wrenching. I caught the other two movies of the same genre released last year, Kisna and Lucky - No Time for Love, and still plan to watch Kyonki on cable. Still, somehow Malamaal had raised my expectations, and I wanted to catch it in the theaters.

The central characters are two superb artists usually not seen in leading roles - Paresh Rawal and Om Puri. In fact, the star value - in the form of lead romantic story - comes from Riteish Deshmukh and Reemma Sen. In showbiz, the concocted spellings of names is usually a good barometer of the success people are enjoying. With such thin box-office pull, the initial draw had to be the marketing effort, with the promise of a repeat of last time's experience.

The best thing about the movie is the village setting, and it looks like a village. The actors are the usual Priyadarshan suspects - Rajpal Yadav, Arbaaz Khan, Asrani, Shakti Kapoor - alongwith the motley crew of dark-complexioned accented South Indian actors he usually takes (sorry for being racist). It is a simple tale, as to how the inhabitants of a very poor village try to make money through the short-cut, when a drunkard wins the bumper prize of Rs. 1 crore in a weekly lottery, and then dies out of elation and shock.

The movie is apparently copied from a British film, but manages to do a good local adaptation. However, the movie suffers from what is my longest-standing crib of most films - length. Instead of the normal Hindi movie format of 3-hour runtime, the movie could have been crunched down by at least an hour. It would have kept the audience engaged with the laughs, and the totally out-of-place melodrama which keeps threatening to creep in only to pass time could have been avoided.

The performances are good, but the laughs few and far. Paresh, Om and Asrani are the kings, and although Rajpal is getting typecast as the buffoon, he is still good as the chichora. Somehow, the episode of Arbaaz Khan (the lottery inspector), where he keeps worrying about his daughter when he is in the village, was cute. Reemma in her backless cholis manages to look sexy and she doesn not have much else to do. I must confess but, I found her attractive even in the promos of her debut movie, Jaal - The Trap, but never managed to gather the courage to actually view the movie.

At an overall level, Malamaal.. is definitely superior to Hulchul (am not even putting Garam Masala in the frame), but is still inferior to the last small-town comedy released, Bunty aur Babli, which was an acceptable product mainly because of the performances of the leading cast and the assets of arguably the most beautiful woman on the planet. One can try catching Malamaal in the theaters, but a Sangam/Paras would be a safer bet than DT (where I caught it).

1 comment:

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