By Subhash K Jha, IANS
‘Wrong Day, Basanti’! Watching that watchable actor Sharman Joshi whooping it up with his irreverent friends one instantly harks back to Rakeysh Mehra's neo-classic RANG DE BASANTI where Sharman and co. told us, there's a life beyond the fun and frivolity of the the gen X.
GOLMAAL goes for the opposite thesis. Nothing matters, nothing makes a difference, so who cares?
After the Mumbai blasts, Rohit Shetty has a blast of his own in store. GOLMAAL is yet another comic outing at a time when laughter is the best medicine.
2006 is indeed a watershed year for Bollywood comedies. Two earlier ones Priyadarshan's MALAAMAL WEEKLY and Neeraj Vora's PHIR HERA PHERI have done exceedingly well at the boxoffice.
GOLMAAL is a well-timed, well-orchestrated swipe at every sacred institute in the country. There are no pauses for stock-taking, no space for anything but pace in this breathless boudoire-farce, surprisingly bereft of that embarrassing lewd content in MASTI and KYA KOOL HAIN HUM that pissed off family audiences.
Clean but stupid fun, with characters who subvert the aimless youth's angst into a parody of slothfulness, GOLMAAL casts Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor and Sharman Joshi as a quartet of wise-cracking wastrels who spare no one from their net of terrifying asininity. A college teacher with a neck collar hollers so hard you fear for his throat and sanity. Everyone screams and rants hard.
The inspiration for such an iconoclastic farce comes from the DUMB & DUMBER genre of cinema that has not always worked in Bollywood (it didn't in DEEWANE HUEY PAAGAL and PYARE MOHAN). But there's a very thin line dividing the farce from a climate of comic chaos that reigns in such weather-beaten but nonetheless diverting nonsense.
This time the brunt of risible wrath is an old blind couple, who seem to be doing impromptu take-offs on Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee in Sanjay Bhansali's classic BLACK.
Like TOM DICK & HARRY and some other farce fests GOLMAAL happily exploits physical impairment for laughter. Tusshar Kapoor's character is mute (if not entirely dumb), Paresh Rawal and his screen wife Sushmita Mukherjee (she gives hamming a new definition) are blind and there's a clumsy gangster who can't hear.
Got the picture? Now chuckle away as sequence after sequence piles on the parody until we are staring at a pyramid of preposterous pranks played at the often-disabled characters' expenses. Paresh Rawal and Sushmita Mukherjee harbour in their house a Sharman Joshi who they think to be their estranged grand-son. Joshi 'talks' to the blind couple in Ajay Devgan's voice.
Rawal and Mukherjee's takeoff on Dilip Kumar and Vyajanthimala from MADHUMATI, is a ‘monster-stroke’, well-timed and robustly tongue-in-cheek. But you wonder if irreverence for the past is actually a signal for creativity in the present, or just an excuse to be blissfully mediocre.
The feisty foursome courts the headstrong girl next-door (Riimi Sen) and fight off various notorious elements who want to break into their breathless binge of burlesque.
The question is, does the audience have as much fun as the characters on screen seem to be having?
Yes and no. Though GOLMAAL neatly structured ambit of asinine anarchy tickles the funny-bone, it finally says nothing about the quality of modern life that we haven't already heard in all those blasts from the past that have come in recent weeks trying to create a ripple across our sense of humour.
If GOLMAAL works better than other recent farce fests it's because the boys get it right. Not just Devgan (devilishly deadpan), Warsi (as usual farce-rate) and Sharman Joshi (marvelously accomplished in his comic timing). Even Tusshar Kapoor who gets it right.