Existentialist dilemma is best manifest in the quest of an elusive house in a metropolitan city more so in a city like Mumbai, where the tenant more so a young man who is trying to make his career is at its wits end to find a house owing to the impractical demands of the landowners. The demands lead to comic situations and this has been exploited in one innovative manner or the other by the filmmakers. PAYING GUESTS is one more attempt in this direction where the lead actor Shreyas Talpade is appearing in a female character along with Javed Jaffery who returns to being a female character after a long time. It would be one of the first films where the successful play by the same name is being adapted into a film, and the writer and the director Paritosh Painter is the same person who gave it a theatric interpretation and has now given it a cinematic exposition.It was the quest for a house that had given us DOSTANA one of the biggest hit during 2008, which under the garb of house hunt tried to enter into the area of homosexual relationships the manner in which they are perceived by the common people in India, the only different being that homosexuality still being a taboo, the locale was shifted to New York.
Shreyas Talpade has proved with aplomb that he is an actor of accomplishment and has done the role of a female character with panache. It is becoming more of a trend in the Hindi film industry that the lead actors try to dabble with enacting a role where they have to be a female character and the garb of playing a female character is used either to generate humor or to catch hold of the villain.It all started when Amitabh Bachchan did the act in LAWARIS and then it became really fashionable to go for it.Even an Aamir Khan did it in Ashutosh Gowarikar's BAAZI, a Kamal Hassan did it in CHACHI 420, and Govinda along with Shakti Kapoor who used to play side kick in Govinda's heydays have done it in score of films, including RAJA BABU, DULHE RAJA etc. From the current generation of actors, Riteish Deshmukh has done it in score of films and now Shreyas Talpade is stepping into this arena with Javed Jaffery as his foil. As a matter of fact Javed Jaffery, along with Aditya Pancholi and Naseerudin Shah had done this act more than 17 years ago in TAHALKA singing the song'' meri Chatri ke neeche aaja... trying to woe the female actor.
The innate desire to experiment with the female character seems to be in sync with the belief that an actor is accomplished if he is able to portray the female character with succinct ability. In the world of Indian cinema it had been going on from the time when the films made their debut, RAJA HARISH CHANDRA being one of the first films where the female lead was performed by male actors. It is also more to do with the tradition of 'swang' of Indian theatrics where a performer is considered to be a good actor if he is able to enact the role of a female character with finesse. May be, this is what eggs the male actors to take this as a challenge. But the moot point is in such a scenario, does it not become more challenging for the female actors in the film to compete with their counterparts at two levels, one as the co-actor and other as a female counterpart. In PAYING GUESTS there are four lead female characters Neha Dhupia, Celina Jaitley, Riya Sen and Sayali Bhagat and it would interest be seeing whether the combination of Shreya Talpade and Javed Jaffrey as lead actors would give the female co-stars the run for money or otherwise.