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Humshakals movie review: Sajid Khan gives us the third degree

Published Jun 21, 2014, 6:38 am IST
Updated Apr 1, 2019, 12:00 am IST
Carry a painkiller to cure headache during interval or save yourself this torture
Humshakals movie poster    (Photo: DC archives)
 Humshakals movie poster (Photo: DC archives)

Cast: Saif Ali Khan x 3, Riteish Deshmukh x 3, Ram Kapoor x 3, Bipasha Basu, Tamannaah Bhatia, Esha Gupta, Satish Shah, Chunkey Pandey, Akash Khurana, Darshan Zariwala, Suresh Menon, Nawab Shah

Direction: Sajid Khan


Rating: TT (Truly Terrible)

Sajid Khan is deeply delusional. He thinks his comic talents lie in the vicinity of Kishore Kumar, Jim Carrey and Peter Sellers. I recommend a colonoscopy with simultaneous electric shocks. Once the passages are clear, perhaps commonsense, sane thoughts, bowels will move.

Sajid is one of those rare mainstream Bollywood directors who are consistently dreadful. His sister started well but tripped with Tees Maar Khan. Even infantile Rohit Shetty has occasionally managed to keep his puerile instincts in check to give us films we can enjoy. But not Sajid. He is the lone ranger shooting one dud after another. I won’t mind so much if his films were plain bad. But they are actively malevolent. They want us to suffer.

While promoting Humshakals on TV shows, the film’s director and actors have been saying, “Leave your brain at home”. It's an alibi for a crime already committed. The least Sajid Khan must do now is to ensure that all the theaters where his film is playing have removable armrests so that we can bludgeon ourselves to death instead of suffering his 159-minute-long slow torture. I tried choking on popcorn. It doesn’t work.  

Sajid Khan’s hero is like his film. Ashok Singhania (Saif Ali Khan) is a desi-Brit tycoon who, instead of running his huge business empire, likes to spend time in desolate restaurants trying to be a stand-up comedian. But he doesn’t have a comic routine. He maaros random jokes that make customers wish the world would self-destruct. 

Ashok has a flunkey-friend Kumar (Riteish Deshmukh) who spouts expository dialogue. “Ashok, your father is in coma Ashok, you are so rich, and yet you crack painful jokes”. This is a cue for Ashok to say, “If Anil Ambani can run the marathon in shorts and Bill Gates can knit sweaters with needles, why can’t I crack jokes?” He doesn’t expound on why his jokes feel like hard coconuts falling on innocent heads.

Ashok, like Sajid Khan, persists and one day, just like Sajid found Fox Star Studios clapping at his stupidity, Ashok finds a girl laughing hysterically at his deathly jokes. We think her insane, villainous or at least an alien from planet moron. She says she is Shanaya (Tamannaah Bhatia), the host of a British TV show, Kaun Banega Millionaire? Ashok is so grateful that he makes Shanaya his girlfriend. 

Ashok has an estate and an estate manager, Mishti (Bipasha Basu), who hits on her boyfriend Kumar in Bengali. She’d like some horizontal action, but he is like a cranky toddler and Ashok is his pacifier. Ashok also has a mamaji, Kunwar Amar Nath Singh (Ram Kapoor), Kans for short, who has been incubating schemes to take over the Singhania Group with the help of Dr Khan (Nawab Shah) and his two gay assistants, Chinku-Pinku. 

After serious cell, chromosome and DNA research, Dr Khan presents Kans a small green bottle with a dropper. This is MAD, Mind-Altering Drug. A few drops will turn a human into a woof-woof doggie for 12 hours. 

At the company’s next board meeting, Ashok & Kumar growl, bark and skitter about with their tongues hanging out. They attack food, moving objects and try to hump a leg. They are sent to Ward A of a British pagal-khana where, despite the well-meaning Dr Shivani (Esha Gupta), a ward boy keeps feeding Ashok & Kumar doggy drops. 

Ward B is pagalon ka jail where a halfwit warden (Satish Shah) tortures the inmates, who include another set of Ashok & Kumar, plus one Johnny -- humshakals of the aforementioned three. 

Ward B’s Ashok & Kumar used to make paranthas at a Southall restaurant. One day they served cocaine paranthas -- not paranthas sprinkled with cocaine, but made of kneaded cocaine dough. The restaurant turned into a Hare Rama Hare Krishna gathering, which forced their boss (Chunkey Pandey) to shrink their brains. Therefore, Ward B. 

Johnny, Kans’ humshakal, is violently germ phobic, but calms down when handed a lollypop. 

The film somehow tumbles to a situation that requires the doggie pair and Johnny to wear humungous falsies and wigs, spray pheromones on Kans and his accomplices, the Ward B retards.  

As if watching these men in heat wasn’t punishment enough, Dr Khan turns his gay assistants into horny Ashok & Kumar and soon Kans’ another humshakal, Balbir, materialises. Now we have three of each when we didn’t even order one.

Most of us have really low expectations from Sajid Khan’s films, but this one outdoes all his previous sins. Humshakals doesn’t just sit at the bottom of the crappy movies’ barrel. It digs a hole and crawls lower and lower... 

Sajid Khan is a one-trick pony. He can only spoof Bollywood and here he wanted to spoof Bollywood’s beloved genre -- humshakal -- in the most outlandish, exaggerated way. On paper this sounds like a stupid idea that could elicit a few laughs. But it takes a certain kind of talent to make a good humshakal film, and twice that talent to spoof it. Sajid is plain incompetent. 

Since he can’t create characters, he concocts cretins with varying grades of lunacy. His film doesn’t have a story or a point, but it has all of the following: susu showers, cocaine and vodka paranthas in an England that has been taken over by Indians who have made Hindi the official language. In his film boys and girls dance in their night suits and climax at the House of Commons with a Hindi-speaking Prince Charles, a ticking bomb, two crotch-biting midgets and a killer wheelchair. 

Sajid Khan’s Humshakals is free of a single coherent thought, commonsense and, worse, it's not funny. It's random, relentless nonsense strung together. Trying to find holes in the film’s script is like standing in an ocean and looking for water. But I do have one question: Where is Mamaji’s Mami? Given Ram Kapoor’s girth, she may have been standing behind him throughout. If she was, I wish she had waved to us once. That would have made me laugh.

Saif is slow and lumbering, like a stiff, confused puppet with creaky joints. The only time he seems to be into the film is when he gets to stuff a pillow in his blouse and wear lipstick.

Riteish Deshmukh tries, and Ram Kapoor partially succeeds. As Johnny he's cutely loopy.

The three girls share one brain cell which one of them seems to have eaten during interval.