Director: Sanjeev Sharma
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Kay Kay Menon, Vijay Raaz, Aditi Sharma, Annu Kapoor, Anupam Kher
The one thing I did after watching Saat Uchakkey – an absurdist Delhi-6-based heist comedy about seven crooks, a cop, and their relentless exploration of every Hindi cussword ever invented – was not phone my parents. I instead spent an hour with two five-year-olds in a garden to recapture the essence of simple, innocent communication skills.
I also washed my ears thoroughly. I was afraid of opening my mouth; lest I broke into a lyrical rendition of desi swear phrases only Vijay Raaz’s acidic tongue can poeticize. The CBFC, too, tried their very best initially, but seemed to have given up after Manoj Bajpayee’s third (out of 78973) sister-focused rant. After all, it’s tragically self-defeating to dub every second expletive into “toofan” or “jugaadu.”
The CBFC, too, tried their very best initially, but seemed to have given up after Manoj Bajpayee’s third (out of 78973) sister-focused rant. After all, it’s tragically self-defeating to dub every second expletive into “toofan” or “jugaadu.”
Another thing I identified is the uncanny ability of human beings to sound oddly hysterical when they’re at their most exasperated. To an outsider like you or me, it’s always a bit novel to see foul-mouthed adults from another region resort to their beastliest impulses.
To be fair, some of the R-rated phrases they conjure up (in their UP-meets-old-Dilli accent) are criminally innovative. It’s often more about how they utter things like “b***n ke laddu” than the term itself.
And for the longest time, this film relies solely on these rather colourful reactions and overpopulated frames. It’s the kind of interplay that thrives on having characters speak loudly over one another and sound incoherent, chaotic, impolite, disarrayed and downright disrespectful. It’s fun to watch, and listen, for a bit – like observing headless chickens continually pecking the hell out of each other.
There’s a mood, an energy, which director Sanjeev Sharma seems to have captured to make up for his film’s distinct lack of cinematic-ness. Patchy sound design and grainy frames soon feel like a perversely accurate part of an amateur world full of amateurish idiocy. And he has smartly chosen his actors.
They also have an incoherent plot for company: something to do with stealing an ancient treasure from within an old haveli occupied by a madcap (Anupam Kher) mentally stuck in Congress-ruled 1985. Pappi (Bajpayee) is the main chap here, determined to hatch one of Bollywood’s lazier get-rich-quick schemes in order to marry the spunky Sona (Aditi Sharma; we do need more of her). His ragtag bunch of local uchakkeys get drowned out by the sheer cacophonous expertise of Bajpayee, Raaz and Menon.
Menon, in particular, is a joy to watch as a raging scooter-driving cop perpetually on the verge of hyperventilation. His scenes with Bajpayee here will perhaps be recognized in the years to come, as examples of how there is no such thing as “serious” or “funny” actors; there are only competent actors, with the right feel and touch for the tone of their environments. They seem to be acutely aware of how their faces appear and emote in context of a scene’s sense of timing – a rare quality to possess in this digital age of multiple retakes per shot.
Kay Kay Menon scenes with Bajpayee here will perhaps be recognized in the years to come, as examples of how there is no such thing as “serious” or “funny” actors; there are only competent actors, with the right feel and touch for the tone of their environments.
And Raaz, of course, has been doing his P.K Dubey act for ages. Forever the riotously cool gunda, it’s impossible not to marvel at his demeanor – his knack of spouting inanely native admonishments to minions off-screen. There’s also Annu Kapoor acting as if he were, well, Annu Kapoor as a judge on a reality show (you remember?) – a mysterious and unhinged figure on the run, forever on the fringes of dementia.
He eventually represents the magic realism aspect of this film, which I thought was a bit of an annoying cop out, in spite of its (loud) satirical take on faith and hypocrisy.
This film isn’t as tacky as its title suggests. Often, the art of shooting chemistry and banter is underestimated. There’s so much misguided testosterone splattered all over these Delhi streets; it’s all very disconcerting and harmless at the same time. One obviously wishes there was more than just flavour, but occasionally, it is all a Hindi-language multi-starrer can offer by way of humour. At least these faces look like they’re entirely capable of being so messy and moronic. Anything but gag-inducing gags and raunchy slapstick nonsense.