Debutant Raghaav Daar's film owes its inheritance to the good old Jagte Raho kind of cinema, but the problem is in an effort to make it artistically cool, the film almost becomes an affected exercise in absurdity. Michael Pinto (Prateik) is the modern-day tramp once made popular by Raj Kapoor, the good-hearted fellow who is untouched by prejudice, who doesn't judge people and is always eager to lend a helping hand. Yes, like his predecessors, he unintentionally creates trouble wherever he goes. Of course, he rescues puppies and surprises everyone with his money-making skills in the gambling den. The template has been tried many times and here Daar turns it into a story of one day and night in the bustling, selfish side of Mumbai. It is another stereotype where the naïve character stumbles into the world of bumbling gangsters, becomes the target of a failed actress but spreads positivity wherever he goes.
Raghaav has come up with some original ways to work the old formula, but the joys are short-lived. His remark on ephemeral Facebook friends to introduce Pinto is spot on. So is his subtle way to comment on the diminishing tribe of boys who considered their parents' dream their own. Pinto comes to Mumbai after the death of his mother who wanted to see him as a priest to spend some time with his once-close friend Sameer (Arjun Mathur), who has become Sam by now. Sam's girlfriend doesn't want to host him. It's New Year Eve and the couple leave Pinto at home to attend a party. As expected, Pinto manages to get on to the street and it spirals into a night of high drama. The first half drags pointlessly as Raghaav takes a long time to get into the groove. The writing and the performances improve noticeably in the second half, but it is too late. Prateik is made for offbeat stuff, but here he fails to distinguish between playing a retard and a naïve. Perhaps Raghaav wanted the line to remain blurred, but it doesn't work. In the second half, he appears much more assured and it helps the narrative. Kalki Koechlin is effective in a small role and Makrand Deshpande gets his timing right as the retired Malayali don who speaks with a queer accent.
My Friend Pinto
Director: Raghaav Daar
Cast: Prateik, Arjun Mathur, Kalki Koechlin, Makrand Deshpande
Storyline: An innocent Goan boy comes to Mumbai to meet a friend, not knowing he is not wanted by his friend and that he is an oddball in the big city.
Bottomline: If you give into absurdity easily, chances are you might make friends with Pinto.