Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon review: Kapil Sharma’s debut is a painful step back to the 90s
Abbas-Mustan's Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoonstarring Kapil Sharma is a film stuck in the 90s that feels like an assault on the audience.
Ladies and gents, give thanks to Abbas-Mustan. Albert Einstein dreamed of it, Doctor Who managed it with a phone booth, but our dazzling director duo have made time travel possible for anyone brave enough to risk watching their new film, Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon.
For the price of a movie ticket, you will be whooshed back to 1990s' Bollywood. From tacky fashion to mansplaining, KKPK has everything that made the Nineties such a ghastly decade in Indian popular culture. The movie will make you say a prayer of thanks that we've left that era behind... until that awful moment when you realise this film was shot in 2014, has been released in 2015 and yet proudly declares that women need marriage like Kapil Sharma needs lip balm. That is, desperately.
Kumar Shiv Ram Kishan aka Bholu (Sharma) is a dude who drives a fancy car, works in a fancy building and regularly wears a three-piece suit in Mumbai so that everyone knows he's rich. Over the course of what appears to be one year, Bholu acquires three wives. It's actually all his mother's fault. She told him he should never break a woman's heart or home, and in his attempt to live by that maxim, Bholu finds himself saddled with three wives. If this sounds vaguely like how Draupadi ended up with five husbands, perish the thought. Mahabharata is a gritty documentary in comparison to the flights of logic and reason that is KKPK.
Bholu lands Wife Number One because he held a stranger's hand for much longer than was necessary. While this is creepy behaviour, marriage seems to be an extreme reaction to the circumstances. His second spousal acquisition is the result of his friend conning both Bholu and the bride, who cannot find a groom because she's a model who had a wardrobe malfunction during a show. She tells Bholu that if he doesn't marry her, she'll throw herself in the havan. Ignoring the fact that she would have to shrink to about 1/20th her size to fit in a havan and that without shrinkage, the havan can cause very limited damage, Bholu becomes a bigamist. When he stops a third woman from committing suicide, she falls in love with him and because she has a deaf gangster for a brother, Bholu has a shotgun wedding.
Some would say that none of these are reasons for a man to marry a woman and even less reason for a woman to marry a man, but those people are obviously functioning a logical, reasonable world.
KKPK is on its own planet. Ergo, Bholu — the dude who drives a fancy car, works in a fancy building, wears three-piece suits and shiny sunglasses, and is a trigamist. In Mumbai, where single people and unmarried couples struggle to find flats to rent, Bholu lives in a building called Cocktail Tower, with three wives, housed in three separate floors, and no one bats an eyelid. It's home science, KKPK style.
Bholu is also Ram to one wife, Shiv to another and Kishan to the third. Why limit yourself to trigamy when you can add fraud to the package? He can't keep track of his three wives' names and as a result, neither can we. We might have had a chance had these woman been something other than pretty props for Sharma, but they don't. The closest to a personality is Wife Number Two, who is a nymphomaniac. (True to 1990s' Bollywood morality, what else can you expect from an ex-model?)
You'd think this is enough confusion for one story, but this is an Abbas-Mustan film. So a fourth woman enters his life: Deepika (Elli Avram), the love of Bholu's life. Never mind the minor detail that being in love with her didn't stop him from getting married thrice — that's all obviously his mum's fault, with her "Don't break a woman's heart" spiel.
Undeterred by the three wives he already has, Bholu wants to marry Deepika. Deepika is the one moment of unwitting progressiveness in KKPK. If her barely-there clothes and song sequences are any indication, Deepika is an exotic dancer and those who remember the 1990s, may fondly recall Samantha Fox's appearance in Bappi Lahiri's Rock Dancer while watching Avram energetically gyrate. More power to Bholu for being supportive and non-judgemental of her unusual career.
And because one man and four women aren't enough for an Abbas-Mustan film, there are also sub-plots with Bholu's estranged parents and Deepika's father, a businessman who hires people on the basis of their spouse/ fiance's photos.
When it begins, KKPK feels like an assault and this feeling intensifies with every song. The film works much like extreme torture. After a while, you lose your grip and are willing to accept pretty much everything that Abbas-Mustan tell you. That's when you'll find yourself laughing, both at and with the film. What else can anyone do when the hero and his sidekick have cocktails on the terrace of Cocktail Towers?
While KKPK is resoundingly tasteless, it's not entirely bereft of laughs. Abbas-Mustan use confusion to good effect in a couple of scenes. Jamie Lever, daughter of Johnnie Lever, makes her debut and manages to make the hackneyed character of the Marathi kaamwali bai (maid) come across as amusing in a few scenes. She also gets perhaps the best line in the film (it involves Newton, sorry, Nutan).
Sharma, the reigning king of television comedy, gets the lion's share of punchlines, though few of them made even his fans laugh out loud. A few may inspire giggles. If Sharma wants a career in the movies though, he needs to get himself some acting skills and a lot of chapstick. Doing skits doesn't prepare you for a film, which requires a character to hold an audience's interest over the course of two hours.
The truly astounding part of KKPK is its climax, when the film turns earnest and Bholu delivers a monologue that presents his polygamy as proof of Bholu's innate awesomeness. This is when the time machine cranks into fifth gear and we hurtle to the golden age of Bollywood misogyny. With Bholu, Abbas-Mustan deliver a hero who saves women by scamming them. Because what would these poor women do if he didn't marry them? Have a life? Get a job? Be happy that they're not living a lie? Heavens forfend!
Bholu's wives came to him as damsels in distress and even though he loved another women and they brought inordinate complications in his life, Bholu didn't turn his back on them. No siree! He conned them continuously and relentlessly — but for their own good, and because he was following his Mummyji's orders.
With tears in his eyes, Bholu tells us he was man enough to be a husband and saviour to these three women even though they, with their dying fathers, deaf brothers and scandalous past, had cornered poor Bholu into marrying them. In fact, Bholu was the one who was conned and yet, he slaved away to make sure they were happy as his wives.
Sure, he could have told them the truth. Of course he could have divorced them. But just think how much hurt that would have caused! Just imagine their lives if they had to go through it without a husband!
It takes a special kind of shamelessness to not just write and say these dialogues in the 21st century, but to do so in the presence of actresses who are independent, working professionals. The fact that Supriya Pathak, Manjari Phadnis, Sai Lokur and Simran Kaur Mundi can look ashamed when Bholu points fingers at the women in his life is proof that these ladies are or have the potential to be amazing actors. If they have even an iota of self-respect and intelligence, they must have wanted to box Sharma and Abbas-Mustan's ears for that monologue.
There's only one antidote to the rubbish that is KKPK: watch the song from which Abbas-Mustan took their title.
The song is far from politically correct (Mehmood appears in blackface, among other things), but it's so unabashedly, cheerfully ridiculous that you just can't take it seriously. Also, if we've got to swallow political incorrectness, let's at least have it served up by someone as delicious as Shammi Kapoor, and with a voice as perfect as Mohammed Rafi's.
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