Movie Review: Shaadi Se Pehle ...

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By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

Film: "Shaadi Se Pehle"; Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Ayesha Takia, Mallika Sherawat, Aftab Shivdasani and Suniel Shetty; Director: Satish Kaushik; Rating: *

I promise not to throw a fit if the makers of this film promise not to make a sequel called "Shaadi Ke Baad". One film about a hypochondriac he-he-he-hero who thinks he is dying of the Big C (not chuckles) is bad enough.

Not again, please!

Wonder what director Satish Kaushik was thinking when he decided to get seriously funny. The plot seems to pay homage to the cinema of David Dhawan and Priyadarshan. But Kaushik seems unsure of how to move forward with the farce.

Once we get the hero's sickness mania right, we begin to worry about the growing malady in the narration. The second half is as aimless as Aftab Shivdasani's sketchy role.

Honestly, what were they thinking?

The characters are fuelled more by hot air than any sincere laws of gravity. Akshaye Khanna grabs your eyeballs with his high-voltage attempts to instil a sense of method to the madness.

But it's a losing battle. The mixture of a romantic comedy and a gangster caper works as well as... say, Akshaye and Mallika Sherawat's chemistry.

Mallika, poor thing, gets to mouth some of Sanjay Chhel's outrageously pun-filled pen-lashed lines with the seriousness of Britney Spears attending a confessional at church on a day when the priest is in a mischievous mood.

But the sense of mischief in her character as a vacuous gangster's kid-sister is pumped up in all the wrong places.

Suniel Shetty as her trigger-happy bumbling long-haired short-tempered gangster-brother is delightfully goofy.

Attempts to create a healthy hilarity out of the contrast between the girl-next-door (Ayesha Takia, typecast) and the moll-on-the-roll are ceaselessly smothered by the flamboyant look-ma-no-clothes direction.

To director Kaushik and dialogue writer Chhel's credit, the spoken words are seldom vulgar.

But is that enough reason to rejoice for yet another, ha ha, comedy which makes "No Entry" and "Malaamal Weekly" look like two ever-grin 'prequels'?

Yes, we all want a good laugh. But we also want cinema that says something to us about the quality of life. Just bringing Boman Irani on briefly (and boy, is he a bright spot in this self-conscious comic outing!) to deliver a strained homily at the end doesn't take away the sting from a septic satire.

Some comedies are self-conscious. This one is shelf-conscious. It estimates its laugh-span at the box office to be as long as Aftab and Suniel's collective hair... Or as short as Madame Mallika's skirts and bikinis!

And that's the long and short of it.

For the record, Akshaye doesn't die in this terminally ailing comedy.

Bollywood.com Rating: 2