In a new series, FC Critics Survey, every few weeks we ask a handful of film critics one question. This week we ask – which character deserved a better movie?
If there was one even moderately redeeming thing about the otherwise entirely dispensable comedy Housefull 3, it was, in my opinion, Sundi, the alter ego of Akshay Kumar's character Sandy. Sundi emerges from inside Sandy every now and then, and becomes especially violent when he hears anyone utter the word 'Indian'. In the film's best (and possibly only genuinely hilarious) scene, Sundi gets into a fight with Sandy, and the result is some incredible physical comedy that Akshay Kumar completely nails.
But the film doesn't know what to do with Sundi so the jokes get tiring pretty fast. I'm not especially looking forward to Housefull 4, but I do hope they had the good sense to bring the only winning character from the last film back for the new one.
And you thought critics didn't have a sense of humour.
I'll say this much for Bombay Velvet: there's no other Hindi film I can think of in which one might encounter a gay Parsi magnate from the 1960s with a penchant for dirty politicking and pretty street brawlers. Still, I do wonder sometimes what Kaizad Khambatta would look like liberated from a film with some promising ideas but also the distracted energy of Pixar's Dory. He remains, by some distance, the film's most intriguing character, deserving of the sort of treatment Boardwalk Empire gave its old-timey gangsters.
The philosophical answer to this question is that ANY poor or mediocre film is full of characters that could have been brilliantly fleshed out. But for a more specific answer – among many – consider the protagonist of the 2015 Dolly ki Doli, a con-woman who "marries" a string of besotted men and then decamps with their valuables midway through each suhaag raat (after drugging the groom of the moment).
A well-written movie, with comic rhythm and a solid lead performance, might have done so much with this premise. "Dolly" plays many roles – from gharelu ladki to seductress, and much else – for different people in different milieus; she could have served as a fascinating commentary on the woman as a cipher in a conservative society, a blank slate on which men (and their parents) can scrawl their personal fantasies. This film could have been a sharp satire on the socially sanctioned assessment and bartering of young women – a Stepford Wives for our culture, or perhaps a lighter, less baroque version of Saat Khoon Maaf. Unfortunately, Dolly ki Doli is leaden, patchy, and full of tired lines delivered in a monotone.
It's got to be Bruce Lee (Jiiva) from Mysskin's Mugamoodi. The first Tamil superhero deserved a better movie. For anyone from my generation, the prospect of a home-grown superhero, that too when it's being created by Mysskin, one of our edgiest and darkest directors, was one that was giving us wet dreams. What we were expecting was The Dark Knight, but what we got, sadly, was Dark Phoenix. And it's not like the film didn't have promise. I still vouch for that fight scene in the hospital. Not only was it cool but it had Mysskin's trademark weird/unique staging written all over it. Even though Bruce Lee was a superhero, he was always a very human character. His abilities too weren't magical…he is after all a trained martial artist. If directors were up to the idea of remaking their own film once again, I'd beg Mysskin to give this film another go. Because there's nothing sadder than to listen to another 'expert' telling us how the Tamil and Telugu film industries cannot 'handle' a superhero movie because our superstars are an iteration of the superhero format. Young filmmakers of today…I hope you're listening.
Although he was the titular character, the film was not eventually about Bhavesh Joshi. The realist with a conscience who you might meet at a protest march, was played wonderfully by Priyanshu Painyuli. Once Bhavesh is bumped off, the film becomes about his buddy Siku (Harshvardhan Kapoor). Yet it's Bhavesh Joshi who made you care and feel.