ong, long ago, and I mean really long ago, there used to be an actor named Karan Kumar (Om Puri). He was known as the King of Bollywood.
In 1979, he carved his way through stardom with the success of Rock Dancer.
Ten years later, he was dubbed the desi Clint Eastwood for his cowboy avatar in Khoon Ki Holi.
And then he became 'old and bald.' If that wasn't bad enough, his films flopped in succession.
Years later, KK -- still referred to as the King of Bollywood -- does no longer rule.
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The retired King stills lives in the world of his past popularity waiting for a solo lead role. His constant companions are his loyal secretary Ratnesh aka Ratty aka Rat (an impressive Manoj Pahwa) and a mute astrologer, Guruji. He still loiters about in his flashy Juhu office, which proudly displays his prized trophies or 'junk' as his son, Rahul (an expressionless Diwakar Pundir), puts it.
He sports an entire wardrobe of wigs and his outfits, which includes every colour in the rainbow. If you are an avid movie buff, his looks will remind you of Elvis Presley, Aamir Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Clint Eastwood, Sanjeev Kumar, Mithun Chakravarthy at different times.
Enter half-Indian-half-British journalist, Crystal Chaurasia (Sophie Dahl). Passionate about Bollywood, Crystal is so fascinated by the make-believe world that she talks the International Film Commission (IFC) to make a documentary on Karan Kumar.
Like Peter Pan, KK guides Crystal into this strange Neverland, with its own share of wonders and intrigue. During the rip-roaring process of making KK's comeback film, Dhak Dhak Karta Hai Father India Ka Dil (DDKHFIKD) Crystal not only begins to closely learn the ropes of this dysfunctional industry but also finds time to bond with the aloof Rahul.
King of Bollywood works on three fronts. It's wit and it's two lead actors -- Om Puri and Sophie Dahl. Dahl is quite a charmer. The model turned actress spontaneously conveys her child-like enthusiasm for Bollywood. She is a picture of grace and beauty as far as her screen presence is concerned.
Director Piyush Jha (Chalo America) infuses clever humour into his script, which unabashedly pokes fun at Bollywood traditions and formulas. The screenplay by Jha and Deepa Gahlot goes all out to make a dig at every possible element of the film industry and its modus operandi.
King Of Bollywood takes pot shots at top actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan and hit filmi situations. Wisely enough, the credits proclaim in the beginning itself that any resemblance to any person is purely coincidental.
The film covers all the sore points; critics are known for thumbing down the most. Be it the convenient twist in the plots or the cliché 'Nahiiiiiiiii' shriek mandatory for every death scene.
It also takes tongue-in-cheek shots on top-notch actors dancing in businessmen's weddings and the Bollywood-underworld nexus when it comes to raising the finance for projects.
Filmmakers never tire of saying the same thing again and again. Jha makes note of it as his protagonists mouth the mundane quotes, heard during film promotions, 'We are making a hatke film' and 'We are like a big family'.
It doesn't show any mercy to the fidgety media either. The whole media labeling game of 'evergreen heroes', 'angry young mans,' and 'King Khans' finds a not-so-subtle mention here.
Doing over-the-top roles is a risky proposition for an actor, especially if he hasn't made a career out of playing loud characters. But Om Puri knows his art just too well. He plays an outlandish personality attired in only garish costumes, but the response his performance evokes isn't regular. His character arouses a tantalising mix of disgust, disapproval and pity.
King Of Bollywood is essentially a satirical vehicle portraying the black, white and grey of the film industry. But through Puri's sheer brilliance it also stands out as the story of an inexorable actor refusing to age gracefully.
When it comes to acting, Puri is truly the King of Bollywood.
Cast: Om Puri, Sophie Dahl, Diwakar Pundir, Manoj Pahwa
Director: Piyush Jha