Cast: Anang Desai, Supriya Pathak, Farah Khan, Prateek Gandhi, Kiku Sharda, Vandana Pathak, Jamnadas Magitiya, Rajeev Mehta. Direction: Aatish Kapadia. (Image: Twitter)
You convert a harmless comedy from the small screen to the large screen at your own risk and the credibility of the product. Aatish Kapadia does this with his ‘Khichdi,’ messes up the ingredients and, more importantly given its banality, its non-existent storyline. Sometimes, a frothy comedy depends heavily on its script at the cost of its storyline. ‘Golmaal,’ ‘Rang Birangi’ (Hrishikesh Mukherjee), and ‘Choti si Baat’ (Basu Chatterjee), are examples. The filmmakers used commonplace situations to tickle your ribs — an essential ingredient of a good comedy. Atish fails primarily in dealing with a near-script-less story. A ludicrous storyline is a godsend to a good comedy. This comes with a huge caveat. The script must carry the burden and keep the viewer in splits constantly. Aatish fails. A ludicrous story told in a near hysterical manner robs the film of its chuckle-worthiness, what could be light often turns ridiculous and farcical.
The ‘Thodi Intelligence Agency (TIA)’ is engaged through Kushal (Anant Vidhat Sharma) to recruit the famous ‘Parekh’ family who we all saw in 2002 on television. The task is to save a robot-making scientist (Paresh Ganatra) from the clutches of the dictator of Paanthukhistan, Imam Khakkethuk (Rajeev Mehta). The dictator is a caricature of the many we have known. He pops out not from the books of history but from comic strips. He is assisted by queen Rani Gulkhandi (Flora Saini) and Vazir Ek Soo Bees Navrathan (Rayanch Veer Chadda). The film starts off on a cacophonic note with the Parekhs’ Tulsidas (Anang Desai), Jai Sree Bharath (Vandana Pathak), Hansa Bhabi (Supriya Phatak), Praful (Rajeev Mehta), and Himanshu (Jamnadas Majethia).
On a helicopter expedition, they drive the pilot Scamish Mehta (Prateek Gandhi) nuts. It is all fine when it is in passing. However, it gets tiresome as you dig into the large dollops of popcorn and the seemingly harmless family gets on your nerves. It is all right for a while to laugh at jokes like ‘Independent’ being misunderstood as ‘in the pendent’ and putting on the AC only once and putting it off for six months but when ‘aftershave’ lotion become ‘after sev’ lotion, the pleasure quotient vanishes.
The task of the family with the ever-blundering Himanshu, the near moronic Praful, the language-challenged Hansa, of heading to Paanthukistan and replacing the dictator with a look-alike, Praful, is spiced by buffoonery and the trademark ‘What is’ of Hansa. The dictator is also assisted by General Zafran (Vishan Malhotra) and Major Zarda (Sumit Jain).
The task of the Parekh Parivar is to find the scientist and save him from the clutches of the dictator. We also have Parminder Kaur heading to prison instead of the police station because it is nearer, to complain that Himanshu is missing. The inspector/jailor (Amit Sreekanth Singh) is dulled. You also have Lord MittiBartan (Raymond) playing the viceroy. There is the time for a tongue-in-cheek look at history that the British left us, thanks to the Parekh Parivar’s understanding of the English language, specially Hansa bhabi.
Many challenges and seeming laughs lead to the Parekhs arriving at Paanthukistan and even managing to replace Praful as the dictator. Unexpected twists where a seeming enemy turns friend leads to a robot (Kiku Sharda) given the command to kill the family. Fortunately for a comedy there is no challenge that cannot be overcome.
After the pleasant but high-tension weeks of Team India’s march to the ICC World Cup final, ‘Khichdi-2’ is light-hearted and a promised laugh ride.
To be fair it is not that the two-hour exercise is wholly without its moments. The problem is that it gets too contrived after a period. There are pleasant surprises from Farah Khan, Prateek Gandhi and Kiku Sharda. The main players are in form. While Anang Desai is forced to play second fiddle. Vandana Pathak is good. It takes talent to play Himanshu, Jamnadas Magitiya does his bit. Rajeev Mehta as Praful is as always good and entertaining. Cast in a dual role he is lost in a wig in one role. The mainstay is the extremely reliable, talented, brilliant Supriya Pathak Shah. Her "How are," "Who is" have trademark timing. She is Aatish Kapadia’s wishbone, she lifts every mundane screen moment to near delight.
The main ingredient of this poorly cooked dish is Supriya. She is the mainstay and good enough reason to nearly invest in this story. Do not forget it comes with a caveat — based on false events. Unfortunately, it also embarks on a very rough route of comedy. The misadventure remains one.