Big Screen

Movie: Khatta Meetha

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Trisha Krishnan

Drawing inspiration from Priyadarshan's own Malayalam movie “Vellaanakalude Naadu”, a social satire made in 1989, “Khatta Meetha” is not an out and out comedy, which it was promoted as. Director Priyadarshan has only been partly successful in adapting his friend Sreenivasan's screenplay to Hindi, and comparing Akshay Kumar to Mohanlal, who played the protagonist in the original, would be blasphemous.

Surprisingly serious

The movie is surprisingly different from what we expect from a usual Priyadarshan venture. After some hilarious comic sequences in the first half, things get pretty serious, and the movies enters a drama mode, addressing issues of corruption and political powerplay in government offices.

Despite being disappointing when compared to the original, which was poignant with the subtlety of emotions and precise underplay, the Akshay-Priyadarshan team has done a commendable job by refraining from making yet another slapstick comedy and attempting something a little more serious, without the grandeur and glamour of usual Hindi movies.

“Khatta Meetha” tells the story of a desperate, unsuccessful road contractor Sachin Tichkule who is neck deep in debt despite being the descendant of a royal family. His father (Khulbushan Kharbanda) is a respected person, and his elder brother and brothers-in-law are extremely well-off by exploiting the loopholes in the corrupt system of the Public Works Department, and the entire family looks down upon Sachin except his sister Anjali (Urvashi Sharma).

Things get worse for Tichkule when his ex-lover Gehna (Trisha Krishnan) takes charge as the new Municipal Commissioner of the town, and she completely hates him. There's a bridge which collapses, a murder that happens, a man out to take revenge, a road roller that rams into a house and much more which happens during the length of the film.

Performances

Akshay Kumar would have succeeded as the earnest Sachin Tichkule had he abstained from shouting out his dialogue in every alternate scene. Yet, with his attire, including the aviators, the black bag and the omnipresent umbrella, contributing to the altogether effect, Akshay's performance is one of the positive aspects of the film. He brings out the hopelessness and desperation of the character really well.

Tamil cinema's darling Trisha could have chosen a better film and a better character for her debut in Hindi. The romance between Akshay and the newbie is lacklustre, and Trisha fails to impress in the very little screen time she gets. Rajpal Yadav is refreshing, and delivers loads of laughs. Johnny Lever brings the house down through his cameo. Khulbushan Kharbanda and Asrani are good. Tinu Anand, Urvashi Sharma, Milind Gunaji, Neeraj Vora and Makrand Deshpande are decent. Manoj Joshi shouts and screams a lot.

The film has some very good scenes, comic and otherwise. The house-maintenance scene (taken from Siddique's “Friends”), Johnny Lever's road-roller sequence, Asrani's conversations with multiple people and Akshay's dialogue to Trisha about the corruption in our system deserve special mention. But on the flip-side, most of the serious events in the film look dated and out-of-place. The murder, the sister track, the entire college sequence, Trisha being framed and the subsequent scenes, etc. made sense in late 1980s, but not now. But one thing that remains unchanged is the corruption in our system, and that aspect has been brought out well.

Music by Pritam is serviceable, but the songs pop up at odd places in the narrative, randomly between scenes. National Award winner Ouseppachan has done the background score which has a strong southern feel to it. V. Manikandan excels in cinematography, and Sabu Cyril creates the perfect atmosphere of rural Maharashtra through his sets. Arun Kumar should have used his scissors more in the second half. The stunt sequence towards the end has been shot very well and it was surprising to see a stunt sequence in a Priyadarshan movie after ages.

Bottomline: On the whole, “Khatta Meetha” is passable fare. But you might be disappointed if you expect a usual Akshay-Priyadarshan movie. It is not bad, it's not great either. Do remember to take some cotton with you since most of the dialogues are shouted out. Yet, the movie brings a refreshing change to stereotypical Hindi movies.

VIVEK RANJIT, B.Sc. Vis.Com. graduate from Loyola College