Bumpy ride full of plot-holes

some pluses and several minuses: Khatta Meetha

some pluses and several minuses: Khatta Meetha  

W hile one must commend Priyadarshan for making movies with unflagging zest and assembly-line engineering, especially with the best of actors and technicians in the business, there's little else about his remakes that merit attention.

There's always quite a lot lost in translation. And this includes the context of the period the original films were made. You can't hide the rot of an 1980s idea (that worked reasonably well in the 1988 Malayalam film ‘Vellanakalude Naadu' written by Sreenivasan).

Corrupt politician villain who kills innocent people with remorseless glee. Check. Villain responsible for hero's sister's death. Check. Villain who leaves clinching evidence for the convenience of theft by idealist fighting the system. Check. Have idealist killed off by a bunch of hooligans armed with sickles. Check. Have idealist die in the hands of hero but only after giving out a crucial secret — the truth about hero's sister's death. Check. Hero entrusted with responsibility of finding justice for all the dead and taking the crucial evidence to court. Check. Dishoom Dishoom. Check.

It's a world without mobile phones or computers, a world where characters are named Sachin Tichkule (Akshay Kumar) and Gehna Gunpule (Trisha making her debut in Hindi) just because the names sound strongly Maharashtrian but the flavour stops right there.

Maybe it's the revenge of the South Indian. For decades, any character from the South of India, even if his name sounds like he's from Kerala or Andhra Pradesh, has always been typecast as the Madraasi who starts every dialogue with ‘Ayyo'. And now, Priyadarshan passes off Punjabi-accented actors as staunch Maharashtrians with pretty much the same attitude. How does it matter? Punjabi, Marathi or Gujarati — some North Indian type, right?

On the title

Who cares if a title is generic and does not have much to the plot? The think-tank behind Priyadarshan's comedies has always come up with titles that have a nice ring to them, however forgettable they may sound. ‘De Dana Dan,' ‘Bum Bum Bole,' ‘Bhagham Bhag' or ‘Bhool Bhulaiyya.' But since this one clearly isn't one of those films and because slap-and slapstick comedy has become mandatory to sell a Priyadarshan import to the North Indians, the makers had a brainwave — to literally call this bittersweet drama ‘Khatta Meetha.'

That's the problem with the film too. While the subject screams for seriousness, the narrative is frivolous, loitering around the likes of Rajpal Yadav and Johnny Lever making lame jokes around an elephant pulling a road roller, taking forever to get to the point — the conflict and the epiphany setting in only in the final act and conveniently, one scene after the other. Scene One: Get Tichkule arrested for fraud. Scene Two: Make Contractor Tichkule frame Commissioner Gunpule for corruption. Scene Three: Make Gunpule attempt suicide and trigger epiphany.

To think the film takes about three hours to get to these three scenes before the climax where Akshay can go get the bad guys. Manikandan's cinematography infuses energy into the most abused chase sequences towards the end, but technical brilliance and Akshay's sincerity in giving this role his all are the only pluses here. Apart from Priyadarshan's never-ending zest for cinema, that is.

sudhish kamath

Khatta Meetha Genre: Drama Director: Priyadarshan Cast: Akshay Kumar, Trisha, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rajpal Yadav, Makrand Deshpande, Johnny Lever, Milind Gunaji Storyline: An ill-fated, out-of-luck government contractor learns to work within the corrupt system further plagued by bureaucracy and red tape, until his moment of epiphany. Bottomline: A remake that's about 20 years too late

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