Nautanki Saala 2013
Once upon a time there was film called Jaane Bhi Do Yaron which had an epic Mahabharata scene.That scene had a dead man playing Draupadi. Never has a dead man made so many people laugh so hard.And since that day every film with the faintest hint of any stage production of the Hindu epics is measured by that impossibly high yardstick.I saw this because the trailer for Nautanki Saala somehow kindled the hope of a laugh riot that brings back the JBDY spirit.
But lets not be unfair to the team of this film.Rohan Sippy gives us a small film with a big heart.The big heart belongs to Ram Parmar( Ayushmann Khurana) who is an actor director working in his own riff on Ramayana which he calls Ravanleela. One day he sees a man about to commit suicide.This man is none other than Kunal Roy Kapoor whose toilet visits in Delhi Belly lead to a drop in sales of street food for quite some time.Here he goes by the name of Mandar and Ram takes it upon himself to infuse life into this suicidal soul and give him a reason to live. Ayushmann Khurana is the rising kid on the block who gave a break through performance as a smart Delhi lad in the very entertaining Vicky Donor.Here he is at his charming best trying to put together the life of Mandar.
The first half of the film is predominantly a goody goody comedy and the second half more of a screwy romance.The centre piece of Rams strategy is getting Mandar his girl back.She is Nandini played by Pooja Salvi, a paupers version of Ashwariya Rai and a scatter brained bimbo to boot.In his completely irrational quest to put Mandar’s life together Ram does stuff that tells us his heart is in the right place but his brain is missing in action.The film has a fair dose of Marathi one liners that do not translate well in the subtitles.
Its funny how Rohan Sippy manages to not make a complete mess of this moribund premise.He handles some of the visuals well and his creative flourishes are interesting.Most of all he achieves a uniquely innocent tone in the film without which the film would come crashing down like a pack of cards.We go along with these good natured to a fault characters because of precisely this reason.A tarka of gaalies would have spiced things up here but robbed it of its PG rating.
Ayushmann is good and its easy to see him dethroning Imran Khan as the ruling chocolate boy of Bollywood.Kunal Roy Kapoor is somewhat underutilized and the ladies lack oomph.Rohan Sippy has made promising films that ultimately fall short of being that well rounded Bollywood product that become at least a modest hit.Perhaps its the bug of trying to be just a little bit “different” thats his undoing,but for me his quest for a unique voice is refreshing.
Nautanki Saala is a good film if you are looking to spend some time in the multiplex and munch popcorn.Its light and frothy and has it moments of fun.The good thing is that it does not do much wrong and never takes itself seriously.And yes whenever I see a film which used Hindu mythology for comedy I feel that its one of the things thats good about my former religion-the very rare quality for a religion and its believers to laugh at itself.
Nautanki Saala is true to its name!