By Subhash K. Jha
Film: "Raat Gayi Baat Gayi"; Cast: Rajat Kapoor, Neha Dhupia, Irawati Harshe, Vinay Pathak, Anuradha Menon, Dalip Tahil, Navneet Nishan, Aamir Bashir, Sudhir Mishra; Director: Saurabh Shukla; Rating: ***
Somewhere on the second-half of this slightly seductive jigsaw about a one-night scam, filmmaker Sudhir Mishra shows up as Neha Dhupia's father who drops in to have a chat with his sullen daughter on the way to the airport.
Little does the stoic Mishra know that daughter has two men stashed away in a cupboard in the living room that looks consciously like a prop on a stage set.
Quirky sex comedies are allowed their moments of eccentricity.
Maybe at this point Saurabh Shukla deliberately wanted to introduce an element of staged comedy. After all, isn't the world a stage? Shakespeare got there first. But hell. Shukla is panting from behind to catch Shakespeare's comedy of 'eros' in a modern context.
Shukla, who can be quite a funny-guy on demand, has made a quirky, sometimes crisp, sometimes placid, look-see at marriage and infidelity.
The seductively-paced work is set at a party hosted by a loud Punjabi clueless woman, played with much gusto by Navneet Nishan, whose amiable husband Dalip Tahil is cheating on his plump wife with the svelte seductress Neha.
In the film, Neha seems to invite more male attention than is healthy for any girl with a respectable appetite.
Dilip isn't alone. Vinay Pathak, playing the goofy, slightly stupid and undiplomatic regular guy once again, is cheating on his wife Anuradha Menon, the hilarious Veejay Lola Kutty trying hard not to be funny, and succeeding by checking out porn on the Internet.
But our main potential philanderer is Rahul, Rajat Kapoor as suave in his sleaziness as ever, married to the sullen Irawati Harshe who befriends Neha at a party, gets drunk and then forgets whether he actually did anything naughty or not.
One of the problems here is that everyone speaks in Hindi because ? well, they're part of a Hindi film when they're characters who would be comfortable in English. Having said this and that, the characters seem to be effortlessly conscious of their authentic bearings. None of the performers strays from the not-so-straight and borrowed path of betrayal, deception and infidelity.
Rahul-Mitali marriage has a twist in its tail at the end and it doesn't shock you. It just makes you sigh. Shukla's direction embarks on a journey through one night of steamy sensations. The revelations are hardly shocking, just diverting.
Stylishly cut, the material's chic movement doesn't quite justify the content. But the narrative has moments that spill out the acerbity underlining urban marriages which are at best functional and at their worst, lies told to keep up an appearance of domestic smoothness.
The film exudes the scent of intelligence and competence. The actors all know their jobs. Most of them have earlier been through this kind of sexual-moral dilemma in some form or the other. The cutting edge is missing. But the proceedings never get cumbersome.