I have watched both Anees Bazmee movies released this year (Welcome and this one) and — speaking as only someone doing statistics for a living would when confronted with a sample size of two — I think I understand his method.
He gets up one morning and says to himself, “I am going to write a comedy today.” His ingredients:
- Two funny characters, done so well that you smile as soon as they appear on screen, and crave their next appearance when they are gone.
- A story to put them in. It doesn’t matter if this part is good. In fact, if it is bad, ingredient #1 above stands out even more clearly. You don’t really need me to tell you what happens in the movie. The plot isn’t why you’re going to see it, and you and I both know it.
- A hero, who just has to bring his charm and star power to the party. A heroine, who just has to bring her drop-dead gorgeousness. That doesn’t sound quite right. Gorgeosity? Gorgi… nah, never mind. You know what I mean. Akshay and Katrina, basically.
- One more gorgeous woman, just for good measure. In this case, Neha Dhupia filling in (and not so well, in more ways than one) for Mallika Sherawat.
- Assorted supporting characters, including talented actors who could do so much better than this. Last time, it was Paresh Rawal. This time, it’s Om Puri. Their brief is essentially just two words: look annoyed. They can do annoyed quite well, and I’m assuming they get paid amazingly well for it. But God! The waste!
- Assorted sentimental nonsense, done badly.
To his credit, the stuff he does well, he does quite well indeed. Ingredient #1 in this movie comprises Sonu Sood and Javed Jaffrey. The former plays a crime kingpin named Lucky, the titular king before a series of unfortunate events causes the mantle to pass to Akshay for a while. The latter plays his half-deaf, half-blind brother Mika.
From the word go, Jaffrey is in top form. The man seems to be enjoying a renaissance of sorts in recent times. After some ill-fated early attempts in movies like 100 Days, and a stint in the wilderness with movies like Jajantaram Mamantaram, it is quite gratifying to see him back in form.
Sood starts off playing it straight, until a sequence of events leave him mostly paralyzed. It is rare that an actor can get so much mileage out of doing nothing. Outside of Satish Shah in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (and Nagesh in Magalir Mattum), the examples don’t come easily. A lot depends on the actor, and Sood proves to be capable of striking just the right static expression. But much more depends on the context you put the actor in. This movie features a virtuoso extended sequence where Sood is being moved around on a wheelchair while his partners in crime discuss the hero’s romantic complications. The scene is so well done that one hardly remembers the dialogue and focuses entirely on Sood.
Now, if only the rest of the movie had a bit more of that madcap genius, I would’ve given it an unqualified thumbs up. As it stands, it is a good movie with two characters, wrapped up inside a mediocre movie with the rest of the cast.