Slapstick gags a mixed bag

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Bollyworld welcomes back journalist and media personality Varshan Sookhun as its film reviewer from this week. Here’s a glance at who’ll be bringing you the latest in Indian films….

Director : Sajid Farhad

Cast : Akshay Kumar, Tamannaah Bhatia, Sonu Sood, Prakash Raj, Johnny Lever

RATING: ***

DEBUTANTE directors Sajid and Farhad deliver an over-the-top comedy that is an ode to a bygone era in Hindi cinema.

Riddled with clichés, it proves to be a lot more satisfying than the recent spate of lacklustre slapstick entertainers.

Plot

Akhil Lokande (Akshay) is summoned by the father of his girlfriend, Saakshi (Tamannah), to earn millions before asking for her hand in marriage.

On a quest to prove his worthiness, Akhil discovers a chest containing love letters from his estranged father to his mother, and a locket with their photographs. He learns that his father is Pannalal Johri (Dalip Tahil), a billionaire in Bangkok.

Johri is then announced dead, with his riches to be claimed by any individual who can prove they are kin.

Akhil arrives at his father’s house at Bangkok, but faces a tough challenge from a dog named Entertainment and two scheming cousins Karan (Prakash) and Arjun (Sonu).

Verdict

This is a foolhardy comedy which takes the easy way out by resolving its problems with some slapstick and a heartfelt ending.

The film-makers make good use of the opportunity to take funny, but stale pot shots at stereotypical Bollywood through punchy dialogue and spoofs.

Akshay is back in top comic form. It’s a testament to his versatility that his character grows in humorous amiability.

Krishna Abhishek makes an excellent buffoonish partner, while Sonu and Prakash Raj play substantial grey characters. Tamannah is likeable in a short-lived romantic role.

The film does have flaws, particularly in the second half where the script loses touch with its pulsating humour.

The comedy is inconsistent as the mood wavers from excessive humour to the histrionic. K Subhash’s story is predictable and at times the amateurish writing is infuriating.

Despite being illogical in their treatment, the directors have made up by maximising the punchlines in the dialogue and include several effective gags during the first half.

Recommendation

An enjoyable comedy that delivers a decent quantity of laughs, thanks to a fine comic performance by Akshay Kumar.

AT 34, Varshan Sookhun, pictured, has had more than 10 years in professional broadcasting, growing from the community station Radio Phoenix, to 2001 when he joined LotusFM as the producer and presenter of the Bollywood Billboard. He now also presents the popular lifestyle show The Midday Spice.

In 2007, the Durban Theatre Group presented him with two Fools awards, in recognition of his contribution to theatre.

He was also presented with two MTN Radio Awards in 2012 for best weekend show and best music show for his hosting of Bollywood Billboard.

Sookhun has nurtured a prolific portfolio in the Bollywood industry and has compered several international concerts in Durban and Joburg.

In 2009, he tried his hand at professional theatre, appearing in the Bollywood stage production Chalo Cinema 4 as a reality television show host. He followed that up with an appearance in Dance With Me Baby Again (Suncoast, Durban).

Sookhun wrote his first full-length theatrical script for the Bollywood adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, staged at Suncoast, Durban in September 2010.

A fashion enthusiast and lifestyle specialist, Sookhun also plays an integral role in promoting talent in films, in other branches of the performing arts, and design.

Sookhun has interviewed some of the most celebrated personalities in the entertainment fraternity, including Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu (3 Talk), Janez Vermeiren (Top Billing), Arno Carstens, John Vlismas, Evita Bezuidenhout (Pieter-Dirk Uys), Danny K, Shaleen Surtie Richards and medical expert Dr Oz.

On the Bollywood front, Sookhun has interacted with celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Waheeda

Rehman, Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Ashutosh Gowariker, Shilpa Shetty, John Abraham, Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

As a journalist and media personality, Sookhun has covered the IIFA Awards exclusively for Lotus FM and has travelled as an invited guest to Bangkok, Dubai, Amsterdam, Mauritius. Singapore, Yorkshire, Macau and Sun City.

His television work has included stints with SABC 3, Sony TV, and Zee TV and voice-over for Saffron TV.

He has contributed to the press as a freelance Bollywood columnist and entertainment critic. His articles have featured in the Daily News, Sunday Tribune, the Rising Sun and Impressions Magazine.


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