Directors: Homi Adajania
Producer: Dinesh Vijan
First, you groan when you read 124 minutes on the censor certificate.
But when the film starts off with a funny line describing a parent as a person who’ll do the most irrational stuff for an offspring, you think, perhaps it will be a fun way to spend nearly two-and-a-half hours in the theatre.
It also seems a premise potent with comic moments when single parent Champak Bansal, a sweet shop owner in Rajasthan, is introduced as a man who’s always confused.
What an opening for a rollicking emotional comedy with a father who dotes on his daughter Tarika, and all she dreams of is going to London to study.
There are touches like Tarika ordering alcohol to get used to drinking when she goes to her dream city. And the way she turns the tables on her father when she reaches home drunk is spunky.
Champak and brother Ghasiteram warring in court over the family franchise but ganging up and drinking together at night could’ve also opened a door to many a comic situation.
But within a handful of scenes, you realise that your first groan was intuitive.
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And long before Champak, Ghasiteram and Tarika fly to London, you know that it’s not Bansal who’s eternally confused, it’s four scriptwriters and a Homi Adajania who can’t decide what they want to narrate to you.
That’s when you feel like asking Homi, hey man, have you been to London lately?
In the 21st century, when Indians who don’t know English land at Heathrow, there are enough brown skins and translators who facilitate proper communication. So the entire sequence where Champak and Ghasiteram are deported because of miscommunication, is not just flimsy, it isn’t even funny.
When three people land together in London and two of them are deported, you’d think the first thing that the London police would do is to contact the third person. But Tarika is blissfully ignorant that her father and uncle have been sent back. Inexplicably, someone called Advait who is parachuted into the script without an introduction, turns up to fetch her from the airport. It doesn’t strike him or her to check on her missing father and uncle.
Glaring holes continue to pockmark the proceedings. How did Tarika, a student who hasn’t even got admission to a college in London, get a visa? And how could she start working and renting a place for herself on that visa? How do Champak and Ghasiteram enter Britain again bypassing the mandatory biometrics?
Cinematic license is allowed in a comedy as long as you’re giggling. It’s when it isn’t engrossing that you start asking questions. A judgmental point is made about how unfeeling it is to move out of your parents’ house and make your life at 18 unlike India where the family stays together forever. Ho hum, I thought slamming western values went out with Manoj Kumar’s Purab Aur Paschim.
Continuing the lack of sync in times of quick and legal bank transfers, Homi opts for hawala transactions which make it look like a sloppy 70s comedy.
Dimple Kapadia and Kareena Kapoor playing a mother-daughter settled in London, have such sketchy roles that they add to the headless mayhem without mirth.
If there’s anything to entice you into the theatre, it’s the curiosity to watch the ailing Irrfan Khan and he doesn’t let you down. One full mark also to the sign-off where it’s Tarika who finally gets to hold the flag of the Ghasiteram family franchise.
With a super sense of timing, Deepak Dobriyal makes a great companion as Ghasiteram. If only the actors had funnier lines and situations than this hotch-potch of illogical misadventures. As for young heroine Radhika Madan, in the emotional chat with dad Champak in a London cab, I couldn’t tell whether she was smiling or crying.
Verdict: Sorry viewers, in the days of corona virus, it’s advised not to take this trip to London. For serving a mess instead of amusement, Angrezi Medium gets a 2.5* rating.