Director: Rohit Shetty
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor, Shreyas Talpade, Tabu, Parineeti Chopra, Kunal Khemu, Prakash Raj
The good news is that Golmaal Again isn't a sex comedy. The bad news is that it then automatically qualifies into the "family-friendly" comedy bracket. And you know how it is these days – writers aren't told what kind of families to cater to, so naturally they write for ape families. In fact, Tusshar Kapoor has even played an ape in all the four (hundred) Golmaal films. The worst news is that Golmaal Again thinks it is a horror comedy. The correct term is "supernatural comedy," what with plots revolving around friendly-but-wronged ghosts of young actresses whose careers have all but vanished. But trust Bollywood to revolutionize a genre through its own misgivings.
To be fair, there are some truly scary elements here. Shreyas Talpade delicately caressing Ajay Devgn's face in his lap to quell his nightly fears is a horrific sight; Devgn "dancing" to a remix of Ishq's "Neend Churayi Meri" is frighteningly gory; pensive Tabu looking like she'd rather be the ghost on these sets makes for a grim image; Sanjai Mishra mumbling away incoherently ("Besura ka Justin Bieber," "Fakeeron ka Rajpal Yadav," "Kalti kyu? Main aaj-ti karunga") is the stuff of drunken nightmares; Johnny Lever's physical convulsions are reminiscent of a retro Ramsay brand of dated spookiness; Parineeti Chopra and Neil Nitin Mukesh unabashedly romancing over a "I Just Called To Say I Love You" rip-off is a truly spine-chilling concept; Amar Mohile's Chennai-Express-murders-Dilwale background score is a reliably ghastly sound that would put creaking doors to shame; a blind Sachin Khedekar behaving like he can't see the career choices he has been making is a blood-curdling reality; critics walking out of halls like zombies make for hair-raising aftermaths.
Thankfully, Shetty returns to his frothy multi-starrer roots after making Shah Rukh Khan inelegantly forget how to act in no less than two movies
There is a lot to be afraid about when Rohit Shetty directs a "massy" comedy. Just like there is a lot to be amused about when Vikram Bhatt directs a horror film. Thankfully, Shetty returns to his frothy multi-starrer roots after making Shah Rukh Khan inelegantly forget how to act in no less than two movies. His talent is now directed towards a familiar cast of actors that perhaps deserve it. So back we are to Gopal, Madhav, Lucky and the two Laxmans, who must combine to show that they actually believe in the refined populist sensibilities of their famed director for 2.5 hours (and years) to justify their fat paychecks – or in the case of Warsi, Kapoor, Talpade and Khemu, their only pay-checks.
The franchise-abusing caricatures return to their old orphanage in Coonoor after the death of its paternal caretaker. Prakash Raj appears as a greedy builder intent on grabbing the land away. Anna (Tabu) is introduced as a librarian blessed with the ability to see ghosts. Unbeknownst to the genius writing, this superpower of hers becomes redundant as soon as the five fools discover that they can see Khushi (Parineeti Chopra), their childhood orphanage friend who is now a ghost due to some Om-Shanti-Om-ish reasons.
Tabu therefore need not have been in this film at all, but then again, Khushi could have finished things off within the first five minutes of becoming a ghost by killing off the villains personally instead of spending a whole film in pursuit of this epiphany. Needless to mention, Shetty has cleverly addressed this harebrained issue by slapping us intellectuals with the oft-repeated dialogue: "Jab God ki marzi hoti hai, cheezo mein logic nahi, sirf magic hota hai!" No logic, only magic of course. God here, I believe, is a metaphor for the filmmaker himself.
I imagined another sly jibe at critics, in a scene where everyone sits at the table for a dinner that consists of samosas, sandwiches and wafers. For the uninitiated, that's classic press-show grub. How dare we question his layered magic? Or am I reading too much into it? Khedekar is a gentle, blind colonel amidst the chaos, a character who ideally should have contemplated khud-khushi (get it?) given that his wife is dead, his daughter is dead, his best friend is dead, he is surrounded by delinquents and his eyes are defunct. So Shetty uses Khushi's inherent airheaded-ness to create an extensive bunch of floating-object gags and belated realizations that make the five idiots (plus Lever, Mishra, Mukesh Tiwari, Murali Sharma) contort their facial muscles in ways that would put Jim Carrey to shame.
Neil Nitin Mukesh is evil again, wrecking eccentric havoc on mankind for being burdened with three first names
The action is limited to Devgn's Deol-ish temper, one of which occurs in a car junkyard that, I presume, contains the mangled wreckage of all the poor vehicles Shetty has smashed in his previous films. There's a running Nana Patekar gag – Khushi possesses all of their bodies one by one through Patekar's trademark no-nonsense voice – that comes the closest to making me smile, but my lips curled back into studied numbness as soon as it was Tusshar's turn to invoke his inner Krantiveer.
Neil Nitin Mukesh is evil again, wrecking eccentric havoc on mankind for being burdened with three first names. He has become such a crazed, conniving stereotype that I feel like yelling "Whaddaplaya!" whenever he appears on screen. Because Players, remember? The Abbas-Mustan Italian Job ham-fest? He was a baddie there, too. A bad player. A good one, in fact. Get it? Get it? Am I not funny? I'll stop. I'm starting to sound like this film now. If I am a ghost by now, I should be wearing cute suspenders and seducing father-figure Ajay Devgn into believing that he is the same age as the others in this film.
Most Indian filmmakers use lazy slapstick comedies as a cover to hide their inability to evolve or be versatile. They fool themselves into believing that they choose to do service for the people – they should have entered politics if they cared so much – in the form of accessible entertainment.
But the fact is that many of them are incapable of telling a real story. Many of them are incapable of exploring the craft. They disguise this mediocrity as an aggressive ideology. They don't choose to embrace commerce over art; commercialism chooses them.
I believe Rohit Shetty is one of these directors. He is at the forefront. He might make it look like he is capable of making anything if he wants, but I really doubt he is. I suppose there are enough people in this country for him to believe otherwise.
And maybe there's nothing wrong with his ambitions, just as there is nothing wrong with jokes like "Father figure? She has a figure, now she needs a father". For non-believers like me, of course, there is always God ki marzi.