By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Film: "Home Delivery"; Starring: Vivek Oberoi, Ayesha Takia, Mahima Chowdhary, and Boman Irani; Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh; Rating: **
This is a strange comedy about a self-obsessed writer who finally drives everyone away - including the audience.
Meet Sunny, aka Gyan Guru. He thinks the world moves on his volition. Little does he know.
Vivek Oberoi brings a cute, endearing quality to his author-backed part. Partly goofy, partly sassy and wholly cocky, he is the portrait of masculine vanity.
Sunny has a devoted girlfriend (Takia - plump, wholesome and pleasant like home-made pizza).
But he spends his time fobbing off her marriage plans, writing a script for Karan Johar (an ill-planned guest appearance by the director which serves no purpose except to raise the glamour-quotient of the imaginative but sadly arid script) and fantasising about a buxom South Indian actress (a surprisingly saucy, spirited and spoofy performance by Mahima Chowdhary).
Scruffy, megalomaniacal and entirely unpleasant, Sunny provides a quaintly contrived contrast to the benign old pizza delivery-man Michael (Boman Irani, competent as usual, though not given the chance to rise above the script).
The morality skirmish between Sunny and Michael in the second-half has a warm workable quality.
Lamentably the 'humour' (and the inverted commas are intentional) in the first-half is so flat and silly you wonder what the talented director of "Jhankar Beats" was thinking while writing the scenes. Maybe, like the late pizza delivery, he lost track of time.
Sure Ghosh has a great feel and flair for looking at the quirky side of metropolitan mores. And that whole idea of a little girl getting the Diwali tune right by the end of the film, is an intelligent metaphor for the movement and rhythm of the protagonist's life.
But this time around Ghosh is way out of his depths.
The protagonist's eccentric neigbours serve up a mealy-mouthed pantomime of grotesque giggles. Simmering in the comic cauldron is a serial killer (Arif Zakaria) who gets whacked around so hard, you wonder if Ghosh was influenced by Cartoon Network.
Yes, "Home Delivery" is that rarity which is getting progressively hard to come by: an original film. However originality per se isn't a great virtue.
More often than not, you run out of patience as you watch Ghosh get unfairly self-indulgent. He uses crisscrossing editing patterns and spoofy musical sets from commercial cinema without getting the counterpoint right.
Ghosh knows what he doesn't want to make. But what he has made hardly convinces us that a change is always for the better.
Apart from a series of cleverly cute guest appearances, there's little to look out for in this droopy drop-'dread' comedy. Vivek tries to hold the show together. But it's a losing battle.
This is "Jhankar Beats" without the jhankar.
Bollywood.com Rating: 1.5