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'Khajoor pe Atke' review: Just short of a laugh riot

A still from ‘Khajoor pe Atke.’

A still from ‘Khajoor pe Atke.’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It’s heartening to see a film provide the centrestage to actors who have made their presence felt on television but hovered around the lead on the big screen. There’s Manoj Pahwa, Seema Pahwa, Vinay Pathak, Alka Amin and Dolly Ahluwalia, who play members of a bickering middle class Indian family in Khajoor Pe Atke.

The film is directed by Harsh Chhaya, who himself was a prominent face on Indian television in the ’90s and early 2000s. So the film is bound to radiate the both charm and craft of a television comedy, without rendering a cinematic experience.

Thankfully, the experience is not that of watching television shows as they come today. Khajoor Pe Atke creates silly and humourous situations that draw from the idiosyncrasies of a traditional Indian family, comprising eccentric, property-minded Generation X and their distracted millennial kids.

Khajoor Pe Atke
  • Director: Harsh Chhaya
  • Cast: Manoj Pahwa, Seema Pahwa, Vinay Pathak, Suneeta Sengupta, Alka Amin, Dolly Ahluwalia, Prathamesh Parab
  • Storyline: A family waits at the hospital for a member to recover from a coma.

When a family member slips into a coma, his siblings along with their kids flock to Mumbai to be by his side, but not without discussing the airfare. There are moments and one-liners that make you chuckle as the film ushers you into a promisingly hilarious hospital set-up. But while some moments work, many don’t.

One can only blame the filmmaker’s execution, which often appears clichéd. The characters and situations which evoke laughter are ones that are most relatable, than the ones that are caricaturish.

Close on the heels of a funny moment comes a burlesque one. For instance, Jeetendar (Manoj Pahwa) and his wife Sushila (Seema Pahwa) invite suitors for her daughter at the hospital, as the wait for his brother to recover from coma drags along. This rather funny set-up is punctuated with trite tropes like the eldest sister ambushing the ICU with a local guru, who ends up smearing ashes on the sick.

The film is self-aware of being an unrestrained comedy and maintains a light tone for grim subjects like death, coma and euthanasia but it also has its mawkish moments that could have been done without. Underneath the amateurish execution, sentimentality and clichés, lies an enjoyable fare best relished for the comic timing of its actors.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 6:25:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/khajoor-pe-atke-just-short-of-a-laugh-riot/article23925838.ece

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