A nautanki lacking in piquancy, it starts as a quirky comedy but settles down to be a predictable love triangle inhabited with characters who are either too good to be true or too idiotic to be funny. No, one doesn’t always pay to watch life on screen but the intrinsic logic should hold and it is here that the Rohan Sippy film slips from farcical to foolish.
Here Ram (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a successful theatre actor-director with a caring girl friend, Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca fits the part). Ram has an unusual altruistic streak in him that not only makes him save an absolute loser called Mandar Lele (Kunal Roy Kapoor) from suicide but also makes him cast Mandar as Ram in his popular play “Ravanleela”. Mandar turns out to be a dim wit who is reeling under the effect of a break up with a florist Nandini (Pooja Salvi). As the boys bond over some morphine and madness, we get some refreshing moments in romance. However, when Ram goes on to play cupid so that Mandar gets his confidence back, we could very well guess that he will eventually end up at the receiving end of the arrow.
Adapted from Pierre Salvadori’s French film Après Vous , once again a lot has been lost in translation and one of them is the soul. Sippy has moved the original plot from a restaurant setting to theatre and while he has been able to create the look, the essence that lies between the lines has evaporated. A few more drafts and better casting would have done the trick but as of now its flaws are crying for attention.
Why would a successful director cast a moron like Mandar in a crucial character? Saving a person from death is another thing but spoiling one’s play – and mind you it doesn’t turn out to be a spoof on “Ramayan” – is quite another.
Mandar’s grandmother (Sulbha Arya) does drop a hint when she says that one who does nothing becomes an actor but to justify this line on screen you need an actor of immense calibre, which Kunal is not. Why would Ram fall for Nandini when he has a consistent girl friend in Chitra, who is pretty sorted? Of course there is a surprise kiss but still one doesn’t like to miss a heart beat for these characters as both Kunal and Pooja don’t give us an opportunity to ignore the creative liberties and the screenplay doesn’t justify the jumps from comic to real.
Still in Delhi Belly kind of irritating mood, Kunal gives a laboured performance in a role which requires Vinay Pathak or Ranvir Shorey kind of flair to be endearingly lunatic. Rohan doesn’t help his cause as his transformation from a non-actor to a performer doesn’t pass muster. Pooja fails to charm as a rather dumb florist who keeps watering wrong hopes until she finds Ram.
The absolutely affable Ayushmann tries hard to tide over the lacunae and gives a masterful performance. While Vicky Donor was his zone, here he gets to show his range and he retains his natural flair even in the most clichéd of situations. The problem is he makes his co-stars look inefficient.
As he has shown in his previous films, Rohan conjures up endearing moments, creates subtle humour out of everyday situations and his mastery over technical details makes this Nautanki a sleek product.