Bollywood Movie Review: Gol Maal ...

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By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

Film: "Gol Maal"; Starring: Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Rimi Sen, Paresh Rawal, Sushmita Mukherjee, Mukesh Tiwari; Directed by: Rohit Shetty; Rating: **

Watching actor Sharman Joshi whooping it up with his irreverent friends in "Gol Maal" reminds one instantly of Rakeysh Mehra's neo-classic "Rang De Basanti" where Sharman and co. told us that there is a life beyond the fun and frivolity of the gen-x.

"Gol Maal", however, goes for the opposite thesis. Nothing matters, nothing makes a difference, so who cares?

Rohit Shetty has a blast in store as "Gol Maal" is yet another comic caper at a time when laughter is considered 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 box office.

"Gol Maal" is a well-timed, well-orchestrated swipe at every sacred institute in the country. There are no pauses for stocktaking, no space for anything but pace in this breathless farce, surprisingly bereft of that embarrassing lewd content in "Masti" and "Kya Kool Hain Hum" that irritated family audiences.

Clean but stupid fun, with characters who subvert the aimless youth's angst into a parody of slothfulness. "Gol Maal" casts Devgan, Warsi, Kapoor and 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 in the film that 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, "Gol Maal" 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 cannot 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 Sharman Joshi in their house, thinking him to be their estranged grand-son. And 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 master-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 court the headstrong girl next-door (Rimi 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 the film's 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 "Gol Maal" works better than other recent farce fests, it is because the boys get it right. Not just Devgan (devilishly deadpan), Warsi (as usual farce-rate) and Sharman Joshi (marvellously accomplished in his comic timing). And, even Tusshar Kapoor gets it right.

Bollywood.com Rating: 3