Writer-Director Saurabh Shukla has mounted this romantic comedy as the clash of cultures that happens in every metropolis with Vidyadhar Acharya (Vinay Pathak) representing the small town guy, who is refusing to shed his asli ghee values to imbibe curry leaves in chhole puri, and Neha Dhupia as the street smart Mumbai girl trying to make a mark in the entertainment industry as a dancer. She also hails from a small town but has apparently learnt the shortcuts in the city of glorious opportunities. She considers him a Pappu, a naïve, simpleton, the antitheses of a hero. He kind of thinks of her as a girl with loose morals largely because of her short dresses and sharp tongue. Both are, of course, wrong.
When some hard-to-believe circumstances force them to share the roof, they first bicker only to blend after intermission as perceptions melt. Shukla follows an established pattern as it starts in the stereotypical fashion with city people shown as manipulative, cut-throat, insensitive, boisterous partying types and the bhaiyaa from Benaras as the epitome of culture and manners. Vinay has mastered his Pappu part. This year we saw him in a somewhat similar role with Lara Dutta in Chalo Dilli. However, if Shah Rukh Khan can repeat himself why can't Vinay Pathak? The ordinary man's profile works for him and when the script gives him a chance to improvise he makes it count.
Shukla doesn't test him much but there are three scenes which make this film more than your average fare at least in terms of thought. The first one is where Vidyadhar buys sanitary napkins for Mehak, while the city-bred ‘focussed' director (Rajat Kapoor excels as the red herring) mistakenly considers her absence from the shoot as unprofessional. We all need a little bit of loosening. The second is where Mehak's father comes from Kolhapur to see his daughter's success but fails to come to terms with her bold image. Vidyadhar explains to Mehak her father won't be able to sell the idea of his daughter being a dancing star to the society he lives in. It captures the reality of small town India where your profession and character still intermingle and Shukla doesn't show his back to the reality by offering quick-fix solutions. This leads us to the third scene in Benaras where Vidyadhar takes a stand that he will accept Mehak without getting judgmental. In a way, it is the acceptance of Bharat (Vidyadhar) that new-age India (Mehak) is not all about corruption and that the two have to work together to make it happen. A little more work on the script could have made it a seamless affair. Here it is a case of ‘knock knock see I am making a point'. Also, Neha doesn't have the acting chops to rise above the script. She is improving with every outing but then we know she started from scratch.
Pappu Can't Dance Saala
Genre: Romantic comedy
Director: Saurabh Shukla
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Neha Dhupia, Rajat Kapoor
Storyline: When a simpleton from Benaras is forced to share a room with a street smart girl struggling to make a mark in Mumbai, sparks fly
Bottomline: Pappu almost passes the test!