Picture courtesy: movietalkies.com
Sunny Deol returns in a morality-play thriller that’s not exactly bad, but not much good either. Plus, a skit that’s too slight to amount to anything.
MAR 14, 2010 – WITHIN THE FIRST FEW MINUTES OF NEERAJ PATHAK’S Right Yaaa Wrong, we witness a car speeding through rain-slicked streets. A quick close-up of a license plate being changed, and the camera dollies into a home where an invalid rests on a wheelchair. Shots are fired, a hand hangs limply, and we cut to the legend “Six months before…” As openings of tightly wound thrillers go, this one crackles and pops – it yanks us by the collar to the point where we will not rest until we know what happened and why. Sadly, though, nothing in the endless minutes that ensue live up to the tautness of this beginning. It’s hard to say what exactly goes wrong with Right Yaaa Wrong (well, other than that Tarzan-yell of a misspelling in the middle), but I think the downslide begins the instant Sunny Deol pops up with prosthetic buckteeth. (He’s apparently a master of disguise, this cop named Ajay. Translation: no one save the jeering audience will recognise him from his multifarious avatars.)
Ajay is the kind of cop who will leap over an oncoming van and shoot, through the opaque roof, a bullet into a passenger’s thigh. (The victim is a villain, naturally, and he’s named Boris, which makes you imagine a defector from behind the Iron Curtain with an ice-blonde moll named Natasha – he’s played, instead, by Aryan Vaid.) Ajay is not only superhumanly brave, he’s also supremely good-hearted. He lets go a kid who got mixed up with these bad eggs because a destitute mother required hospital attention. And thus the film’s central conflict is set up, the battle between right and wrong. Should the law be followed to the letter, or should extenuating circumstances and emotion be taken into account? Ajay’s colleague Vinay (Irrfan, who delivers the best performance, though with Sunny Deol and the numerologically rechristened Eesha Koppikhar around, that’s a bit like being amazed by Gulliver’s size in Lilliput) is more hard-bitten. He argues that the kid should be jailed, and in reply to his anger, Ajay flips on the car radio, which responds with Koi haseena jab rooth jaati hai to from Sholay.
The clash between the opposing forces of the title – and between Ajay and Vinay – is played out through a twisty tale involving insurance money, a cuckolded husband, a wily wife, and the hunk she’s having an affair with. But this isn’t Double Indemnity – that plot, instead, is turned on its head into something that, at least on paper, must have looked promising. But the story’s emotional implications aren’t explored, the moral vacillations are shortchanged, and, most damagingly, the thrills aren’t quite thrilling. The big reveal is squandered right after interval point, which leaves the rest of the film mute spectator to the dreary sport of one-upmanship between Ajay and Vinay. These latter portions are graced by Konkona Sen Sharma, who shows up, rather mystifyingly, well into the second half as one of those all-in-one heroines – a potential love interest for Ajay, a mother to his child, and a lawyer who steps into the courtroom to fight for what she feels is right. For some reason, Monty’s songs are entirely devoid of beats, and that feels entirely in sync with a film that struggles to get any kind of rhythm going.
Picture courtesy: buzzintown.com
THE FOLLICULARLY CHALLENGED AMONGST US might be inclined to view Rahul Aggarwal, director and leading man of Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke, with more empathy than he deserves. Here, finally, is a protagonist – not some supine sidekick – whose dome is depleting rapidly, and who will resort to neither hairpiece nor hat. He’s balding, and there’s nothing he can do about it, and he’ll court neither sympathy nor smirks. He just goes about his business like any other man on the street – the chap with the ripening paunch, say, or his cohort with the hirsute man-breasts. We’ve gotten to such a point in our films – our Hindi films, at any rate – where we worship the waxed and the wonderful that there doesn’t seem any possible space for an unheroic hero like Amol Palekar, him of the hawk nose and the hesitant gait, who carried film after successful film on his underdeveloped deltoids. It is, therefore, genuine cause for celebration when the reflector lights bounce off Aggarwal’s shiny forehead, as he makes his appearance as Devki Nandan Tripathi.
Unfortunately, shared genetic connections can only take one so far in the enjoyment of a movie. After the initial burst of recognition, we need a story to care about built on characters worth following around – and this genial television-level skit (imagine the feel of Piya Ka Ghar routed through the sensibilities of Hrishikesh Mukherjee by way of Priyadarshan) is too slight to amount to anything. Devki hails from a nondescript village where the walls advertise impotence cures through a single pill and whose elders stash their money inside their underwear, thus necessitating the unloosening of pyjama drawstrings whenever cash is required. He travels to Mumbai for a job, where his fish-out-of-water status (as contrasted with a slick-operator flat-mate, played by an appropriately loud Ravi Kishan) is milked for mild chuckles. But when his new wife (Narayani Shastri) falls into trouble with the police, Devki cannot afford to be a simpleton any longer – he has to employ the wiles of the wicked city dweller. In the face of a narrative that grows increasingly preposterous under the guise of peddling small-town charm, Om Puri and Paresh Rawal do what they can to justify their hopefully heavy salaries.
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