A fellow critic and friend forced to award stars for films much against his desire, believes that it's not important if a film is good or bad, what's important is what you take home from it. And he speaks as if every film is a work of art and a reviewer's duty rather than telling people if they should watch it or not is to recreate that experience of watching the film.
I'm sure there are interesting patterns and colours formed when a pigeon drops you a message from the sky but isn't it the primary duty of a critic to be able to tell the difference between art and accident before you even consider it worthy of analysis?
Why a debate on criticism when we are talking about an inane comedy that stars Dharmender, Sunny Paaji and Bobby Deol? Simply because, the most interesting part of the PJ-infested comedy with plenty of self-referential humour involving the Deols and their repertoire of films, is its attack on criticism.
The villain of the film is called Minty Tejpal (named after a popular film critic by the same name) who stands for a party represented by the symbol — star. The opposition party led by Anupam Kher is represented by a helicopter. Given the Deol's outbursts towards the “star-waale” and related dialogue — as the film's central characters spell out — “Star gaya tel lene. Hawaijahaaz ko hi vote dena” (Don't go by the star, vote for the helicopter), one can argue that the underlying subtext is that of criticism versus escape. The helicopter used as a metaphor for a light flight of make-believe and escape (read: lies) by the politician (read: filmmaker) to get your vote, much against the campaign by the star-waale (read: critics).
So, in one scene, we have Minty Tejpal's goons fool people that the water coming out of their well naturally tastes sweeter (they've secretly mixed “good” — jaggery — into it) and to counter this campaign, Bobby Deol comes up with a smarter plan. To mix booze into water to intoxicate people and make them believe that the water coming out of their well is more naturally blessed. Obviously, the kick from the brew turns out to be more populist than the sweetness of the fake ‘good' water promised by the star-waale.
While it is debatable whether or not Samir Karnik intended some or all of this subtext, there's no denying that it could be perceived that way given the string of co-incidences. So would you rather let the critic applaud the brilliance of the subtext and the inherent intellectual humour in the argument or would you first want to know if this film's worth your time and money?
The answer to that question is in the film itself. “Star gaya tel lene. Hawaijahaaz ko hi vote dena.” Yes, vote for escape, not rating. There are some films that just aren't meant for critics. It would be futile to even try and appreciate the art in it.
Go for this bumpy, breezy (even windy at times) ride on the helicopter at your own risk. And hey, do watch your head.
Yamla Pagla Deewana
Director: Samir Karnik
Cast: Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Kulraj Randhawa, Anupam Kher, Emma Brown Garrett
Storyline: An NRI son comes to India in search of his missing Dad and brother, conmen living in Benaras and decides to unite his brother with his love to get his family back.
Bottomline: Ha Ha Ho Hum. Mildly funny but much better than most Priyadarshan and Anees Bazmee comedies