Somewhere in the middle of Ghanchakkar, Sanju (Emraan Hashmi) starts tearing his bedroom apart looking for a number he'd noted down some time back. He's pulling out drawers, flaring his nostrils in frustration and generally getting nowhere. His wife Neetu (Vidya Balan) notices this and points out the obvious: "Shouldn't you check your wallet first?" Lo and behold, turns out it is in the wallet after all.
This is one of the few situations in which writers Raj Kumar Gupta and Parveez Shaikh allow common sense to enter the world of Ghanchakkar. As far as the setting and locations for the film are concerned, Ghanchakkar is quite realistic as it shuttles between different parts of Mumbai. In contrast, the story has about as much credibility as a chit fund owner claiming innocence.
For the better part of Ghanchakkar, which is directed by Gupta, Sanju has the memory of a doorknob and the intelligence of a door. The film starts with Sanju teaming up with two small-time criminals, Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and Idris (Namit Das), to rob a bank. For the bank heist, the trio put on masks and are thus transformed into Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Utpal Dutt. It's the best sequence in Ghanchakkar and also the most deceiving. From this sequence you'll think you're watching a comic caper when what you're actually being shown is a mess.
If Ghanchakkar was to have an honest film title, it would be "Repetition". Everything is repeated and with a little less effect each time. As a result, the plot doesn't move and we don't really get to know the characters who remain flat and uni-dimensional. They just keep saying and doing the same things again and again.
Throughout the second half, someone or the other asks Sanju, where's the money that had been taken from the bank and he replies that he doesn't know because he has partial amnesia. He hasn't written any notes to himself (remember Memento?) he hasn't left any clues for himself (like Agent K did in MIB II) and he doesn't have the sense to check out the obvious places (like a bank locker) first.
Gupta scatters red herrings all over Ghanchakkar, but doesn't complete any of the sub-plots that are half-heartedly introduced into the story. However, what makes Ghanchakkar truly disappointing is the laziness of a script that churns and rechurns the same jokes in the hope of conning the audience into believing the plot is moving forward.
Those who remember the good ole days of Bollywood will see the bank robbing trio and remember Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Chupke Chupke fondly and weep — because the beauty of Mukherjee's scripts lay in clever gags that recurred just the right number of times.
Gupta, sadly, doesn't possess this quality. After the first half, Ghanchakkar quickly becomes a bore. Gupta tries to wake up his audience by trying to discover his inner Quentin Tarantino and changing the tone from comic to violent at the end of the film. However, not only is this shift too abrupt, the logic is so wanting and there's so much unnecessary bloodshed that the only thing to do is roll your eyes and wish you'd left at interval.