I spent much of my morning struggling to distinguish between Mastizaade and last week’s release, Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3. This is not a comment on the genre (both are what are called “adult comedies” by those who have a low opinion of human adults). No, this is a comment on the carbon copying of content and lazy casting. Here’s a sampler:
KKHH3 featured Tusshar Kapoor as one of its two male leads. Mastizaade, too, has two heroes of which one is played by – let’s chant the name together – Tusshar Kapoor.
In KKHH3, Tusshar was called Kanhaiyya Lele, a surname that is meant to be funny to practitioners of Hindi slang. In Mastizaade, Sunny Leone plays twins Lily and Laila – wait for it, wait for it, wait for it – Lele!
KKHH3 had a cameo by Riteish Deshmukh. Mastizaade has a cameo by Riteish Deshmukh.
KKHH3 included gags using the words “masti” and “grand masti” as an ode to the titles of the film series starring Riteish. One of Mastizaade’s heroes describes Riteish’s character as a chap with whom they have done a lot of “grand masti”.
Sushmita Mukherjee – best known to Hindi screen audiences as Kitty from the old Karamchand TV shows – was a horny elderly woman in KKHH3. In Mastizaade she is an elderly sex addict.
Starling Gizele Thakral had a supporting role as a porn star with a breath-laden style of speaking in KKHH3. In Mastizaade she has a guest appearance as a busty banker with a breathy voice. Her make-up artist’s pride in her handbag-sized, pursed-up lips is evident in both films.
Hoo boy, I just dozed off making that list for you.
As it happens, KKHH3 and Mastizaade are both written by the same team: Milap Zaveri and Mushtaq Sheikh. Milap has also directed this film.
It takes a special kind of courage to lift your own ideas, recycle them and spit them out at the audience within a span of just one week.
To be fair, their wandering eyes have not spared their colleagues’ works either. Mastizaade is filled with situations and character traits familiar from numerous other raunchy Bollywood comedies of the past two decades, right down to a scene in which Tusshar and Vir Das are spotted in an awkward position where they appear to be – but are not – boinking each other and a horse. Remember the man with the mannequin in the first Kyaa Kool Hain Hum film?
In short, you can see most of this film’s jokes coming from a mile away. Oh… I said “coming”. Giggle giggle.
So anyway, Mastizaade is about two sex-crazed men called Sunny Kele (Tusshar) and Aditya Chothia (Vir) – yeah yeah, we get it, we’re supposed to notice the names. During the course of their perennial search for action, they meet and fall in love with Lily and Laila. Lily wears saris, big glasses and has a stammer (because, you know, speech defects are so amusing, no?) while Laila wears tiny skirts and tops, does not wear glasses and does not stammer.
Two spokes in the wheel of true love appear in the form of Lily’s fiancé and Laila’s disinterest in matters of the heart. Sunny is shocked that Laila views him in precisely the way he has viewed every woman in his life so far: as a sex object. He wants more. He wants love. In the midst of all those boobs, butts and crotches, here is the element that could have made Mastizaade something more than a piece of assembly-line nonsense, but the writers barely graze this plot point a couple of times before moving on to their pre-kindergarten-level antics.
It is not that the film is an absolute zero. Mastizaade’s potential is evident from a scene in which both ladies decide to make their respective declarations of love for the heroes, and another in which Riteish as Baba Gasm mindf***s a bunch of female devotees. Besides, Vir and Riteish are blessed with the sort of comic timing and natural charm that help them occasionally rise above even terrible scripts like this one. Oh look… I said “rise”. Tee hee hee.
Sunny Leone, whose acting was disastrous in her first Bollywood outing, Jism 2, is clearly not a lost cause. In Mastizaade, we get glimpses of the comedian she might be some day in a film that is not as singularly focused on her humungous bosom as this one is.
Earlier this month, large sections of the media, the film-viewing public and even the film industry stood up for her when a senior journalist appeared to be moralising, during the course of an interview, about what he seemed to consider her shameful past as a porn star. His tone during that conversation was inexcusable, but it would be just as nice to see Sunny stand up for herself, and refuse to be reductively viewed as nothing more than a pair of very large breasts in a film.
There’s nothing wrong with artistic, aesthetic objectification. Cases in point: Michelangelo’s statue of David in Florence and Priyanka Chopra dancing to the song "Ram Chahe Leela" in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Rasleela... Ram Leela. Mastizaade, on the other hand, objectifies Sunny and every other female character, in a dehumanising fashion. Your turn to speak up now, Sunny.
In case you are among those who do not mind misogyny or LGBT stereotyping (Suresh Menon plays a thoroughly over-the-top, caricaturish gay man in this film), you might still wonder why Mastizaade thought it fit to have the two heroes getting violent with a wheelchair-bound, paralysed man and flinging him down a flight of stairs.
Insensitivity is not Mastizaade’s only problem though. In fact, some people might consider this quality a film’s selling point. So no, Mastizaade’s problem is its absolute lack of originality and boring repetitiveness.
The characters in this story speak in rhyming sentences almost throughout. The double entendre seems to be drawn from pubescent schoolboys just beginning to discover the female mammary glands and cursed with particularly low IQs. Besides, what can you say about a film that has not one, but several women and a man drooling over Tusshar Kapoor, with Sunny’s Laila Lele even describing him as “hot”?
Come to think of it – that is a pretty original thought. Good one, Team Mastizaade!