This family is as dysfunctional as it gets and the narrator introduces us to each character one after the other, in a very once-upon-a-time story telling style. The voice over is peppered with sarcasm and the tone itself hints at what you should expect or rather not expect to see in the next hour.
As the babuji (Yusuf Husain), the stern, scowling, seemingly heartless patriarch of the Beri family slips into his fifth coma, his four children wait with bated breath for him to breathe his last. Because only then can his will be executed and they can all lay their hands on the property that will in turn help them get out of the mess in their individual lives.
The eldest brother Pawan Beri needs the cash to get a goon-cum-politician off his back. But he’s no victim. A scheming, lecherous, misogynist, alcoholic who perhaps has the best lines in the film, Pawan packs in all the clichés of what men should not be. Casting lyricist Swanand Kirkire for this part was the most unexpected move, perhaps the biggest gamble for producer Prakash Jha and director Ritesh Menon. But it pays off and how! Swanand manages to make the most evil character in the film the funniest one, so much so that it won’t be wrong to say that he almost ends up carrying the film on his shoulders.
His performance is in fact so spot on, that it overshadows the powerful Shilpa Shukla, who is cast as his sister Archana, a wannabe Mrs India only because she couldn’t be Miss India. She bullies her husband (a bloated Ninad Kamat) to the extent that he develops an alter ego in a drag avatar to cope with her tortures. This character has a shock value but is not fleshed well enough. Kushal Punjabi plays Aman, the US-returned brother who brings home a firang wife and a box full of lies. The youngest one in the family is their gay brother Abhay (Siddharth Sharma) who is settled in the far-flung New Zealand. All of them want the best bargain on Beri land and when their greedy paths cross each other, the story melts into a cliché of mayhem.
With a plot largely predictable, the film is heavily dependent on performances and in that regard the casting team knew what they were doing. Each character, no matter how ridiculous their premise or how long and short their screen time, manages to be convincing. They play their parts just right, but this reviewer cannot help but repeat it’s Swanand who steals the show. This could well be the start of a new career for him.
The narrative hinges itself on satire, however, the melodrama towards the end dilutes the humour; that could have been avoided. That apart, Ritesh Menon’s direction is confident and his portrayal of characters, engaging. Kudos to the editing team for keeping the film under two hours, a minute more and it could have easily flown off the rails. But overall Crazy Cukkad Family manages to be a decent balance of chuckles, LOLs and WTFs....