Movies are full of small pleasures—just as they are full of minor irritants. This list is dedicated to one of those things: when a film decides there should be a scene where its title will be explained, completely disregarding the notion that it is probably self-explanatory. We have all encountered characters going out of their way and slipping in the title in a way that seemed overly contrived—and unintentionally funny. Here’s a list of such films, in no particular order.
For a film that got it right for the most part, one moment sticks out like a sore thumb: Murad’s first music video, “Doori”, is being uploaded on YouTube. There are a bunch of others in the room, including MC Sher and his foreigner girlfriend, when they realise that he doesn’t have a rapper pseudonym yet—a legit concern. Murad, of course, is too naive to have thought of one, too wide-eyed about such things; he is a poet who has become a rapper by accident, not by design. So the rest of the group handhold him a bit, they brainstorm on it together when he says, ‘Main kya hai, gully ka chhokra hai’ and voila— Sher’s girlfriend has come up with a name: Gully Boy! As they all high-five one another, celebrating what an awesome name they’ve come up with, it hits you that the entire scene was an elaborate contrivance to justify the title. If you didn’t pay much heed to it earlier, now you do. And it sounds fake, cute at best, named by a foreigner, with none of the hard-edged ring of MC Sher, or any of the real rappers out there.
Machine is like any other Abbas-Mustan film (only with spectacularly bad acting) in that there are multiple twists and turns. The good guy is actually the bad guy, there is a secret twin brother, whoever dies eventually returns and so on… Even Wikipedia says the plot is too convoluted to explain. But the biggest mystery is why the movie is called Machine. We’re made to wait till the last two minutes of the film to get an answer. Kiara Advani is holding her husband, who had earlier flung her off a cliff, at gun point but she can’t pull the trigger because she still loves him and also because there’s no point in killing a man who feels no emotion. ‘You’re heartless. Just a machine,’ she sobs. It’s both lame and profound.
Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon
Sooraj Barjatya’s Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon is the kind of gratingly terrible Bollywood rom-com that suggests the title came first and then an entire film was conceived solely to justify the oddly assertive title. Prem is the Rajshri keyword, so both the heroes in the loud love triangle are named Prem, and then the heroine (Kareena Kapoor then went on to star in a film called Heroine, almost as a compensatory tactic) sings this song on stage in a performance as a tribute to the hyperactive Prem (Hrithik Roshan) while the boring Prem (Abhishek Bachchan) assumes that he is the object of her musical affection. As Salman Khan once said in an indecipherable accent in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: Confusion, confusion. The song itself, composed by Anu Malik, is bereft of melody and lyrics and rhythm and beats, and seems to have been made on the fly to drive home the childish duality of the title.
Salman Khan’s Kick takes its title a bit too seriously. Every character keeps slipping in the word ‘kick’ into conversations just in case you’ve zoned out and forgotten what you’re watching. Within the first 20 minutes we get multiple explanations for why the film is called Kick. First, Bhai himself explains it. ‘Woh jeena bhi kya jeena hai jisme kick na ho’. Another character helpfully explains that here kick means ‘exciting, masti, thrill’. Someone says,’mujhe bhi kick lagi. Super kick.’ Another adds, ‘Pele aur Beckham ki dekhi hai. Par ye kaunsi kick hai?’ And Jacqueline Fernandez’s character angrily says, ‘Apne kick ke liye tum kisi ki bhi jaan khatre main daal sakte ho’. And it goes on and on… The more the characters explain the title, the lesser sense it makes.
It was a questionable title anyway—a pun on the very Indian phrase, “Gone Case” (meaning ‘nutcase’)—given the sombre nature of the subject: Enakshi, the protagonist, has alopecia, a rare condition which results in sudden baldness. And then you have a scene in the movie where Enakshi is shown seated at the bench of the school ground at lunch break, with a friend, when a football comes their way. The friend gives an earful to the guy who comes to take the ball back. Guy snaps back. To which the friend says, unnecessarily, ‘Tu pagal hai kya? Gone Case hai?’ Guess what the guy says, he says, ‘Gone Case toh teri friend hai, Gone Kesh’, with special emphasis on the last two words, highlighting them, lest we miss the point. Classic case of a film trying to shoehorn its title into a scene, with laughable results.