This week at the multiplex, a stubbornly unfunny farce that’s fixated on undergarments.
MAR 30, 2008 – EARLY IN AN ACTOR’S CAREER, when he (or she) swallows pride and takes up a part in a hall-of-shame film, you do the math and reassure yourself: Poor guy. After all, it’s not as if great roles are being written every day, and he does have to keep the home fires burning – or re-tile the kitchen, or send his kids to a decent school, or build that swimming pool, or whatever. But after the 5101st or so instance of seeing Paresh Rawal throw away his dignity in service of a (hopefully) fat pay cheque – in Ashwani Dhir’s “comedy,” One Two Three – I couldn’t help wondering if his lifestyle aspirations aren’t a wee notch higher. Is he diverting these funds towards the construction of a retirement home in Majorca? A Swiss chalet, perhaps? Or maybe he’s trying to buy out BCCI. Why else would he agree to be seen as a seller of undergarments, who can apparently guess what size bras or briefs a person wears by merely looking at them? It’s hard not to harbour these thoughts after seeing Rawal convince a size-40 woman that she should actually go for a size-42 bra. He rummages through his stock to find the appropriate undergarment, and tells his son (over the phone, when the latter asks what he’s up to), “Main behen-ji ki bra nikaal raha hoon,” that he’s taking out this lady’s bra.
As bad films go, One Two Three isn’t up there with Race. It doesn’t blow up the GDP-equivalent of Rwanda on a slo-mo fashion show pretending to be a thriller, and it doesn’t raise your expectations – even to the minimal levels that expectations can be raised by a mainstream movie these days – by roping in megawatt stars. This is a more modest failure, a low-rent stab at a Priyadarshan-style comedy-of-confusion – but that doesn’t make it any easier to endure. The numerals of the title refer to three men named Laxmi Narayan (played by Suniel Shetty, Tusshar Kapoor and Paresh Rawal) who get involved in (1) an assassination attempt, crossed with (2) a hunt for a diamond, crossed with (3) the purchase of a vintage car, crossed with (4) expansion plans for a lingerie business – and it’s Subplot Four that appears to interest the director the most. As proof, Sanjay Mishra and Sameera Reddy strip down to their undies (at different points, thankfully), Esha Deol confesses that she opted for a career in designing undergarments because she’s fascinated with the underworld (her award-worthy logic being that the prefix “under-“ is common to both), Manoj Pahwa plunges his hand into a tote bag and finds himself holding a bra, Tanishaa opts for a wardrobe that is essentially a long line of lingerie, and Suniel Shetty accidentally sprays water on his crotch and tries to remedy the situation by twisting the lower half of his body under an automatic hand dryer. It’s tempting to think what a really good physical comedian could have done with the latter situation, but let’s be thankful that at least Shetty keeps his pants on.
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