By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Film: "Chup Chup Ke"; Cast: Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapur, Suniel Shetty, Sushma Reddy, Neha Dhupia Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav, Om Puri and Anupam Kher; Director: Priyadarshan; Rating: ** 1/2
Incredibly, the second comedy this week, "Chup Chup Ke", evokes far more laughter, amusement and diversion than "Phir Hera Pheri" which meandered in search of mirth.
Mirth is evenly balanced in "Chup Chup Ke", with some keenly insinuated social statements in the prolific Priyadarshan's latest work of wacky witticism.
The first half is delightfully liberated of melodrama. The comic communication among Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav and Shahid Kapur (with Om Puri often joining in with the tittering trio) is so steep and yet streamlined, you begin to wonder if this isn't the best interactive comedy you have seen in a while.
As is characteristic of Priyadarshan's cinema, the canvas is glutted with characters who speak non-stop and sometimes provide us with irrelevant information.
The screenplay is clogged with characters both comic and serious and sometimes serio-comic. Shahid balances the two facets with admirable equanimity. In his performance, he brings both virility and vulnerability. His gentle romance in the large Gujarati business household with the mute beauty Kareena Kapoor needed more accentuation, less haste and more tender persuasion.
Priyadarshan uses the spacious Gujarati household, teeming with ethnic women running around with plates of sweets, to spotlight the satirical aspect of the plot.
The gags are often goofy. For example, the wedding planner who wants to see Kareena married so he could take his wedding tent back is a character Mira Nair would want in the sequel to "Monsoon Wedding".
Check out Rajpal, Shahid and Paresh's comic timing scene after scene as they chew, not on one another performance, but on the vitally oddball situations with dialogues to match.
However, parts of the film get unnecessarily grim. Priyadarshan's pet obsessions, such as the heroine's over-possessive and volatile brother (Suniel Shetty) and the triangle that grows when Shahid must choose between the ethereal beauty of the affluent family (Kareena) and the girl back home (Sushma Reddy, thoroughly ill-at-ease in widow's weeds).
The choice, as they say, is queer. Even when Priyadarshan does instant encores from some of his recent films - the wedding climax echoes the director's "Hulchul". He still succeeds in keeping us watching till the last quarter of the narration when drama nudges comedy out of the way.
Himesh Reshammiya's songs seem to have that been-there-done-it quality.
Way to goof! While Tirru's cinematography goes with the feeling of furiously funny antics, it does not say much about the inner world of the characters. For that we have the actors - all seeking out levels beyond laughter to pitch the tents of their personalities.
Hardly any performance fails. But you wonder how actors like Anupam Kher, Mohan Joshi and Sushma manage to keep a straight face while the world around them collapses into uncontrollable laughter.
The film's grimmest tragedy is the scant space provided to Kareena. Really, she is the loveliest sight in this partly dramatic-largely comic voyage into comedy. If she's speechless, so are we.
Bollywood.com Rating: 2.5