Romantic material more suited to delicate drama is twisted into a sex-jokey comedy. The results aren’t pretty.
JAN 30, 2011 – A CURSORY GLANCE AT Madhur Bhandarkar’s oeuvre suggests that this director is as suited to comedy – at least the intentional kind – as Hrishikesh Mukherjee is to action thrillers where Dharmendra, with gritted teeth, bays for the blood of mangy-dog villains. Bhandarkar’s currency is moral outrage – or should that be faux moral outrage? Like a schoolyard bully, he zooms in on the softest of targets – the Page 3 crowd, the fashion industry – and he comes down hard on them with a sledgehammer, which happens to be his tool of choice, once again, in the lyrically titled Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. Bhandarkar swoops down yet again on soft targets like effeminate gay men and overweight women. (“How do you do?” says someone, upon being introduced to a gay man. “Any way you like it,” is the fluttery-eyed response.) Are we to be relieved that Bhandarkar is no longer fulminating and finger-wagging from his celluloid pulpit? Or should we worry that he’s even worse with the rhythms of comedy than he is with drama?
The early portions creak and groan with the strain of animating the loveless lives of three housemates (Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Omi Vaidya). It’s only as the second half gets going that we realise that this isn’t, as the promos promised, a romantic comedy. At least, these characters aren’t romcom characters. They belong in a classy drama, one that recognises that a good man and a good woman do not automatically generate a good marriage, or that all the money in the world cannot help an aging beauty (Tisca Chopra, in the sole noteworthy performance) hang on to her gigolo boy-toy once his eyes have landed on firmer flesh. The film’s dark theme, the desperate yearning for someone by the side to alleviate loneliness, is outlined through Koi hota jisko apna, the hit from Mere Apne, and instead of developing situations worthy of this emotion, Bhandarkar settles for alleged sex jokes like the one where a perky twentysomething squeals to her older boss that her friend has “lost it,” “lost her V,” and he wonders if she’s talking about a wallet. He’s as clueless about spelling as his director is about storytelling.
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