Anil in a weighty role
Badhaai Ho Badhaai is no comedy, it is humdrum slapstick
What happens when Bollywood tries to imitate Hollywood? In one word: a disaster.
That sums up Satish Kaushik's Badhaai Ho Badhaai. Inspired in part by the 1996 Eddie Murphy film,The Nutty Professor, playing the part of the obese Prof Sherman in the desi version is Anil Kapoor.
Where The Nutty Professor was a delightful comedy about a horizontally generous professor, Badhaai Ho Badhaai is a slapstick, slapdash venture with too many subplots that manage to disfigure the movie beyond the realm of coherence.
To get to the part of the overweight look sported by Kapoor in the movie, you have to wade through an hour-and-half of a typical Hindi film plot.
The Chaddhas (Amrish Puri, Farida Jalal and Govind Namdeo), and the D'Souzas (K Vishwanath, Rohini Hattangady), are friends turned foes after their daughter and son, respectively, elope and marry. The two families now cannot stand each other and brandish sickles at each other across their fences and indulge in senseless car chases to strike terror in each other's hearts.
Suddenly, Raja (Anil Kapoor), who claims to be the son of the pair who had eloped, comes back to meet them. The two families spurn him, unwilling to let go of the past. Raja and his friend Lucky Iyer (Suresh Menon), a Sikh with a South Indian accent, then move in with Ghuman Singh (Kader Khan), a boisterous singer who is the only one in the neighbourhood willing to take them in.
Raja wins over his grandparents, who soon start pressurising him to marry a girl of their choice. The Chaddha grandmother (Farida Jalal), wants her grandson to marry a Hindu girl to pave the way for his rehabilitation into their family, while Grandma D'Souza (Rohini Hattangady), wants to find him a Christian girl.
To save another feud, Raja says he is already married to Banto Betty, a girl whose name and existence he dreams up on the spur of the moment. A few days later, a Banto Betty (Shilpa Shetty) actually walks into the village claiming to be his wife.
So who is she?
Flashback to an overweight Raja in love with beautiful neighbour Florence (Keerti Reddy). She sings his songs, has him teach her mathematics and declares that size does not matter for the man she will fall in love with. Yet Raja decides to shed his flab and turn into Prince Charming to woo her, only to discover that she is in love with and all set to elope and marry someone else. Sound familiar?
Well, that is because Florence belongs to the D'Souza family. Her beau (Vinay Jain) is the Chaddha grandson. Life in Bollywood is full of delightful coincidences.
This time round, Raja promises to sort out the feud between the two families, so that the woman he loves can marry honorably.
If the plot sounds confusing or hollow here, it turns out worse onscreen. The screenplay has too many subplots threading it, confusing the audience and hurtling the movie towards near-certain disaster.
Badhaai Ho Badhaai's high point is supposed to be Anil Kapoor's obese guy look. Kapoor's overweight look has been done by Mathew Moogley of WF Creations, who did the special effects for Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and Peter Segal's The Nutty Professor.
But while Eddie Murphy's calorifically challenged look created a delightfully believable character, Kapoor's gag falls completely flat.
The fat look does not fit into the plot and comes across as an attempt to do something different, even when the story does not demand it, making it tedious for the audience to watch. Also, despite its Hollywood pedigree, Kapoor's makeup looks artificial and his facemask does not translate too well onscreen.
Director Satish Kaushik's, last movie, the Tusshar Kapoor-Kareena Kapoor starrer, Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai was undoubtedly melodramatic, yet plausibile. In Badhaai Ho Badhaai, Kaushik fails to keep his actors in check.They shout their dialogues when they want to sound forceful.
Shetty, who plays Banto Betty, mangles what could have been a chance for a delightful comic role, with her outrageously loud expressions, dialogue delivery and costumes.
As Florence, Reddy does not have much of a screen presence and slips out of your memory whenever she is not onscreen.
Anil Kapoor, whose movie it is all the way, is sincere. He has tried hard to infuse life into his role, and experimented with his looks. But Kapoor's efforts are marred by an incoherent screenplay. His gags fall flat and his bloated look does not really add that zing to the story.
Badhaai Ho Badhaai is marred by a poor script, loud acting and slapstick packaged as humor. And despite its attempt to piggyback on one of Hollywood's successful comedy films, it fails to redeem itself.