Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami review: A promising storyline that ends up as Facepalm

Suprateek Chatterjee

Oct 10, 2014 13:20:10 IST

Satire doesn’t seem to be Bollywood’s strongest suit nowadays.

Sure, there have been the occasional bright sparks (Phas Gaye Re Obama, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola) that, though flawed, got the essence of the genre. However, more often than not, we’re subjected to films that start off with a great idea, only to be ruined by the usual excesses of Bollywood.

Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami is a well-meaning socio-political satire that tries to walk the fine line between excess and intelligence. It nearly succeeds but unfortunately, somewhere near the end, the film stumbles and sinks into a familiar pit.

The story is somewhat familiar yet engaging: a dying father has a final wish and his sons must make it come true. The feature film debut of hit TV director Ravindra Gautam, Ekkees wears its heart on its sleeve and has all the makings of an uproarious black comedy until it becomes the stuff of facepalm.

Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami review: A promising storyline that ends up as Facepalm

Not even Anupam Kher can save this film: Image from Facebook

Anupam Kher stars as the film’s central character, Purushottam Narayan Joshi, an honest and upstanding BMC malaria worker. He values integrity and respect above all else and is constantly chiding his sons Shekhar (Manu Rishi Chadha) and Subhash (Divyendu Sharma) for not living up to his ideals. His relationship with Subhash is particularly strained, since the latter prefers to make a living as a party worker for the corrupt chief minister Daya Shankar Pandey (Rajesh Sharma) instead of following in his father’s footsteps.

Kher, who manages to effortlessly leapfrog from working with Oscar-nominated directors like David O’Russell to acting in the year’s worst movies (look up Gang Of Ghosts at your own risk), could play this role in his sleep. However, while occasionally caught being on autopilot and not taking as many pains to sound Maharashtrian as Chadha and Sharma do (the former is more successful at it), Kher does bring enough of his trademark avuncular charm to pass muster.

Unfortunately, Ekkees needs more than Kher to salvage it. As the Joshi patriarch looks forward to retiring with honour and a certificate of integrity, a series of events lead to him being unfairly accused of corruption. He is stripped of his pension, PF, and, most importantly, his pride. This takes a severe toll on his health and on his deathbed, he asks for something absurd: a 21-gun salute.

The absurdity of the plot has a lot of potential and the parallels are many, ranging from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron to Death At A Funeral. Ekkees is smart enough to come up with a meta role that finally does justice to Neha Dhupia’s (limited) acting capabilities – she plays a ditzy prima donna named Jaya Prabha – but it's also juvenile enough to think that her appearances on screen need to be accompanied by the sound of a cat yowling.

Gautam ruins his film's potential by by unnecessarily spoon-feeding his audience. With assistance from cringe-inducing background music and unbelievable logical missteps, the director works overtime to derail Ekkees.

That said, there are quite a few moments of genuine hilarity. A sequence involving ice and a spot-on Sudhir Pande (as Joshi’s samdhi) elicits plenty of laughs. While not a patch on this legendary piece of cinema, Kher’s Commissioner D’Mello act in the second half has its moments.

Also, while Ram Sampath’s music is disappointingly average (that ‘Tod De Kataar’ song sounds like a Sajid-Wajid reject), ‘Ghoor Ghoor Ke’ scores points for its spot-on picturisation.

The largely excellent supporting cast features great turns from the always dependable Rajesh Sharma and the wonderful Uttara Baokar, who plays the CM’s scheming mother Kalavati (she's very obviously modelled on one of our ex-PMs).

Aditi Sharma has a pivotal role as both Subhash’s love interest and the CM’s trusted speech writer, but her performance is serviceable at best. Rahil Qaazi’s script and dialogues draw liberally from news headlines, but not all of his ideas work as well as they may have seemed on paper.

Sadly, Ekkees is a film that was filled with potential but is undone by its flaws – much like the system it attempts to satirise.

Updated Date: Oct 10, 2014 13:30:26 IST