All Is Well loses very little time telling us that the title is a lie. The film opens with a performance by a singer named Inder Bhalla (Abhishek Bachchan). The actor is stiff – he looks like a Citibank employee in the middle of a PowerPoint presentation. It’s hard to see who’s buying this music. Throughout the film, you get the feeling Bachchan is miscast. At least, he doesn’t seem very interested. Inder needed to be played by a younger, spryer actor – say, the Abhishek Bachchan of Delhi-6. All Is Well tells a similar story. An NRI makes what he thinks is a short visit to India and finds himself sucked into chaos – only, this film is meant to be a comedy. Hence the scene where Inder spurns a lucrative offer and his friend chides him: “Lakshmi-ji tilak lagaane aa rahi hai aur tu face-wash karne jaa raha hai.” Someone’s going to have to answer for that line at the pearly gates.
We see bad films all the time and their existence should come as no surprise – yet, All Is Well is a special kind of bad. It makes you want to raid the thesaurus for synonyms of “excruciating” and “amateurish” and “people are actually getting paid for this?” The germ of the plot is about Inder’s family owing money to a loan shark named Chima (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub). Inder decides the best course of action is to jump into a car and flee. Along with him are his maybe-girlfriend Nimmi (Asin), his father (Rishi Kapoor) and mother (Supriya Pathak, wearing the glazed expression of someone who set out for an introverts convention and landed up at a Punjabi wedding instead). They stop at a dhaba. The bill comes to something like Rs. 4000. Of course, Inder offers to pay by credit card, and of course, that’s not going to be possible. Sonakshi Sinha happens to be around. She says something like, “Dance with me and your meal is free.” And we slip into an item number. To see more incomprehensible writing, you’d have to open a pre-schooler’s notebook.
Somewhere down the line, we get to a divorce between Inder’s parents and their subsequent remarriage. It’s a lovely idea, but the director Umesh Shukla botches it up like everything else – from bad comedy, we’re airdropped into bad drama. Only in the final scenes do we see what Shukla was after. It’s about our obligations towards our (imperfect) parents, which we’re meant to fulfil like the mythological Shravan Kumar. And at least one scene between father and son comes off fairly well. But to get there, we have to endure the abasement of talented actors like Seema Pahwa. She plays an aunt with an overbite – her makeup makes her look like Brer Rabbit. Oh My God! isn’t just the name of Shukla’s last film. It’s what you keep exclaiming during these couple of hours.
- Delhi-6 = see here
- “Lakshmi-ji tilak lagaane aa rahi hai aur tu face-wash karne jaa raha hai.” = The goddess of wealth is coming to kiss you and you’re out of mouthwash… or something.
- dhaba = see here
- Shravan Kumar = see here
- Oh My God! = see here
Copyright ©2015 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.