Sajid Khan
Direction, Story, Screenplay & Dialogues

Robin Bhatt


Film Review
Humshakals :Comedy v/s Lobotomy

I have never seen anything notable in Sajid Khan’s movies and, judging by his latest offering, he is in no hurry to disabuse me of this notion. Apart from his penchant for the letter ‘H’ (the eminently forgettable Heyy Baby, Houseful, Houseful 2, Himmatwala) the kind of slapstick he indulges in cannot be termed as comedy – it is ‘entertainment’ for those who have had a lobotomy.

With Humshakals, I fear he has just probed the tip of the nadir (forgive the oxymoron) unless people like Vashu Bhagnani stop producing his bilge! So here, you have three male and three female actors – which in the good old days used to be known as a multi-starrer. Clearly this is not enough for our lad of the bad puns for he then has all three male leads play triple roles! Just in case that did not suffice, the Saif Ali Khan (Ashok) and Riteish Deshmukh (Kumar) characters are best friends and have the same names as well; kis maa ka doodh piya hai?!

To the tangled web that passes for a story: Ashok and Kumar are from a well-to-do background. Ashok’s Daddy-O (Akash Khurana) is in a coma and his wicked mamaji (Ram Kapoor) with the help of Dr. Khan (Nawab Shah) conspires to have jodi number one sent to a mental asylum, where we come across the second jodi in the form of loonies Ashok and Kumar. Here we also meet mamaji’s judwaa Johnny, who supposedly suffers from OCD and thinks germs are merely spread by sneezing; the only way to calm him down is by offering him a lollipop. Hang in there, it gets even more bizarre – Dr. Khan, who apparently has sirf mamaji as his sole client, then creates rubber masks and what-not and voila! His two assistants are now the third Ashok/Kumar pair. Mamaji’s triplicate is Rajvinder, owner of a nightclub.

The ladies are there for decoration – and not even passable eye candy, at that! Mishti (Bipasha Basu) is estate manager to Ashok 1 and the love interest of Kumar 1. Bips seems to have gained some flab. Tamannah Bhatia is Shanaya, ostensibly some TV reporter except we see less of reporting and more of being at the beck and call of Ashok 1. She looks the most presentable of the female leads; suspiciously plump lips though – Botox? Esha Gupta plays Shivani Gupta and the love interest of Ashok 2; say, if her false eyelashes grow any longer, she’s liable to trip over them! Clearly can’t act and not much of a dancer either. Only a Vashu/Sajid movie is going to have a loonybin doctor heavily mascara-ed, with loose spiral curls bouncing along the white coat. Ram Kapoor needs to lose weight before, he spontaneously combusts. Chunky Pandey figures in all this mess as Bijlani the parantha-dealing, dope-peddling Sindhi seen somewhere at the beginning and at the end. Satish Shah as YM Raj and the warden of the aforementioned nut house hams it to the hilt. The uber talented Darshan Jariwala plays a ward boy?? Heyy Bhagnani!!

Most of the movie is totally farcical and the sexiest thing about it is that red sports car that Saifoo climbs into. The most honest scene was torturing patients by making them watch Sajid’s Himmatwala; at least the man can take it on the chin. So – Ashok and Kumar 2 have the minds of five year olds (yeh main nahin kehta, doctor kehta hai) and yet Ashok is capable of falling in love while Kumar rolls out paranthas like he was to the dhaba born! An extremely distasteful scene was playing with the medical controls of a coma patient much like a video game. As for the three men in drag, I think the Thesaurus doesn’t have enough words in it yet to sufficiently describe the coarse catastrophe that has befallen Hindi cinema.

Surprisingly, Riteish Deshmukh is the saving grace of this pallid fare. While comedy has always been his forte, he excels in mimicry too. Saifoo’s hairline is a very bad hair job! Also, he’s got so much makeup on that one can practically reach across and touch the pancake. Also, no sign of that famous ‘Kareena’ tattoo in any of the shakals – what gives??

Cinematography is by Ravi Yadav; nothing outstanding. Rameshwar S. Bhagat as the editor probably fell asleep midway or else was dazed by the clones! Sajid Khan is credited with the dialogues; some clever puns and a lot of PJs comprise the same. Himesh Reshamiyya is credited for the music, which is to be expected given the storyline. Samir is one of the lyricists. I cringe. Ahmed Khan as the choreographer, probably mistook one SK for another; the steps are more suited to Shahid Kapoor (no pun intended) than an ageing Saif.

Sorry, but this must be said. Even though he was a flamboyant cricketer in his heyday and had an inter-caste marriage with a film actress, contrast the dignity Tiger brought to his position as the Nawab of Pataudi with the sheer imbecilic antics his son, Saif Ali Khan, the present Nawab of Pataudi gets up to in the name of “cinema.” What was the man smoking?? Always an average actor, he showed promise in Hum Tum and redeemed himself with Parineeta, Omkara and Love Aaj Kal; what in Hades possessed him to be part of such a moronic film? It is no longer enough for actors to blame the directors and for the latter to pass the buck on to the writers; it is expected that any thinking person select the script he wants to work with as indeed, actors like Aamir, Hrithik and Irrfan are wont to do.

   Punam Mohandas

(Punam Mohandas is a film buff, a journalist, an author, an accomplished travel writer and an expert on South Asia. She also writes columns on film personalities. She has lived and worked in India, Dubai and Bangkok.).

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