Suniel Shetty, Raveena Tandon, Shekhar Suman, Shakti Kapoor, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Makarand Deshpande
Subhash K Jha, IANS
We should seriously question why comedy has come to such a sorry state in our cinema.
To Kundan Shah goes the credit for directing "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron", one of the brightest situational comedies in Indian cinema. In it the humour hinged with heaving hilarity on a corpse, played by Satish Shah, being shuttled from one place to another.
There's a lot of physical activity in "Ek Se Badkhar Ek", much more than in "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron". The characters are either running helter-skelter, probably in search of the scriptwriter, or they're busy rolling their eyes and smacking their lips in a broad display of rollicking fun and pleasure.
But are we, the stupefied spectators, able to partake of Kundan Shah's film? No! The film generates loads of sweat but no heat, and certainly no warmth. It's all about let's-give-them-a-wacky-comedy-at-any-cost. And never mind the mind.
The secret of creating a successful situational comedy lies in its spontaneity. Though the improvisational spirit among Shetty, Shekhar Suman and Raveena Tandon is alive and kicking, the material they're given to chew on is more perspiration than inspiration.
The satire on the uneasy nexus between the police force and the underworld hinges on a single line - the intellectually challenged Rahul (Shetty) wants to be a don, cop Kanchan (Raveena) wants to catch one. Their initial sequences together simulate a squabbling synergy that quickly becomes a casualty of comic overkill.
The sequence in the claustrophobic wrestling bar where Kanchan downs a few strong pegs and then has a wild and violent time had the potential to be as free-spirited as Sridevi's titter-turn in the gambling den in "Mr India". Kundan Shah fritters away the titters in extravagant welters of guffaws that drown every aesthetic element that could possibly have been inherent in the comedy.
The best sequence is the one where the kidnapped gangster Gulshan Grover is hauled by two senior cops to prove his credentials as the most powerful don in Mumbai. If only the director, known for his penchant for muted statement, had kept the noise decibel down!
Every character screams the dialogues as though he or she were rehearsing for the latest parliamentary session.
Alas, noise cannot compensate for the absence of genuine comic aptitude. This is a really screwed-up screwball comedy. Raveena has a ball doing a Lucille Ball. Sadly for her, and for us, the premise for an 80-minute satire is stretched to 180 minutes of excruciating nonsense about mistaken identity and long-lost winks.
By the time Makarand Deshpande, with his fine sense of the comic, makes an appearance to play as many as three roles, we're as lost to the plot as the plot is to the characters.