Mayank Shekhar's Review: Rascals

By Hindustan Times

Director: David Dhawan
Actors: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt
Rating: *

The two main blokes in this movie are called Chetan Chauhan or Chetooji, and Bhagat Bhosle aka Bhagguji, named after, we presume, Chetan Bhagat, popular writer of lowbrow English fiction. These fellows play small-time thugs, conmen; out to kill each other’s game. It might of interest to viewers to know exactly who they are, besides the characters they fake. A background might take, maybe a minute or two, to explain. The writers couldn’t care less.

Bhagguji impersonates an ex forces’ man, dancing at the Indian Navy’s ball in Thailand! He pretends to be blind, can use his walking stick like a nanchaku, that popular martial arts weapon. Chetooji poses as a philanthropist/motivational speaker (I think), running a charity called Art of Giving, a name that may not go down too well with a certain double honorific from Bangalore.

The two jaded, ageing heroes are interested in the same unusually busty girl (Kangana Ranaut, in various states of undress). This heroine, you suppose, could be okay with simultaneously marrying both. Or so it seems. While the leading men are at each other’s throats, another gent Anthony Gonsalves (Arjun Rampal) is after them as well. Don’t ask why. Don’t. Even. Ask.

Sanjay Dutt plays that Chetooji. The actor, who’s father to two young girls, has suggested in recent interviews that his daughters can act in movies only over his dead-body. There’s no way he’ll allow his girls to work in Bollywood. You get the sentiment. The overt, uneasy, crass sexism of movies such as these may have something to do with it.

Surrounded by various B-grade bikinis in Bangkok, among other things, Chetooji teaches naked asans for yoga. His bete noire Bhaggu (Ajay Devgn) finds inane excuses to score some sympathy sex.

No one minds mindless movies. They come with known caveats: leave your brains behind, as they say. It may be hard to tell what your brains would do, alone at home. Replacing the hollow space between your ears with some hilarious stuff may not be a bad idea still. The unconnected, unfunny skits here offer you none of that relief. You just feel brain-dead instead.

“Like all girls after becoming Miss India get into films, all vehicles after bang-up go to one Usman bhai’s garage,” says a character in this movie, after a pointless car chase sequence, which may be necessary, given the comedy is not good enough. This happens early on in the pic. Miss India equals movies: the line is fair giveaway of this film’s vintage itself. It belongs to the nineties.

That’s when David Dhawan, the director, made his name with fairly awesome romps, Aankhein (1993), Shola Aur Shabnam (1992), and that indisputable Govinda masterpiece Haseena Maan Jayegi (1999). His movies have scratched depths for new lows lately. Do Knot Disturb (2009), for instance, defied a review altogether.

This one defies a film. You just lose interest after a while. As do the filmmakers. At some point, out of the blue, they just abandon the whole project, start replaying scenes from the picture, everybody begins dancing together, friends and foes, Anthony Gonsalves, Bhagguji, Chetooji. You wonder what’s going on again. Credits start rolling. Nonsense ends. Poof. Thank you.

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