Mayank Shekhar's review: Isi Life Mein

By Hindustan Times

Director: Vidhi Kasliwal
Actors: Akshay Oberoi, Sandeepa Dhar
Rating: *

"Dude, I've started 'gyming', man," says the fat boy, because he wasn't good enough for the hot girl. His best friend is the Adam's apple of all female eyes. He chomps on "falafel sandwich" at home, is the artsy kind, I suppose -- so he roams around with a copy of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead! He runs the college dramatics society, wants to adapt Shakespeare's Taming Of The Shrew (plot of most '80s Bollywood flicks). "The original version was very 'MCP-ish'," says one of the guys in the group, "It's hard to adapt." You can tell. For some, it would be.

A 'small town' girl makes it to this group. The Adam coaxes her into a makeover. A trip to the local salon, she becomes the uptown girl (the beautiful behnji turned 'mod', as they say). The gang celebrates this big occasion with a 'happy new me' party. She looks at the cake, looks away, and then Adam tells her, "It's 'eggless', silly". Even Salman Khan calls up to congratulate her on "being reborn". She can't believe her luck. Neither can her friends. They go berserk, dance half nude under a shower, swing on tree branches inside a nightclub, and guzzle pints of Foster's beer in topless jeeps. 'Cool' is an oft abused, dangerous word. 'Wannabe' usually follows it like a shadow. You have to be careful. The makers of this movie evidently aren't.

You're not sure if they get the 'small town' right either. This other India is where the girl's daddy pushes her into, away from these decadent, "modern" types. This is where she belongs. He wants her married off to a rich, greedy khandaan (family). Security is important. But it comes with a deposit. The hated "modern college" coolios pool in all their resources - watch, camera, jewels, cash - to pay for their friend's dowry.

For half the film, you either watch an extended wedding ceremony doomed on dowry issues ("It still happens," warn the filmmakers with a monologue). Or you can catch a full-length theatrical production of Taming Of The Shrew (the new Kiss Me Kate, as it should be). You don't know where to look. The writers are looking at both Indias, I suppose.

This is a film from the Rajshris, the same producers who made pots of wealth from a single character called 'Prem', film after film, about two decades ago. And even later, for a while. The silent screen star disappeared, merely because he couldn't see the talkie coming.

Salman, the original Rajshri 'Prem' (Maine Pyar Kiya, 1989) has turned into a shirtless action hero in his mid 40s. Mohnish Bahl, their pet side actor, has become old enough to play a college-going girl's dad (in this film). Their movies are still confusingly the same. Change isn't always good for everyone. It's a struggle for some. It has been for these dudes. Dude, huh?

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