Movie review: Watch Nautanki Saala for Ayushman and Kunal Roy Kapur
The funny bits are there but they're too far apart. So lower your expectations, ignore the women and Nautanki Saala will be enjoyable.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve gotten fairly well acquainted with Kunaal Roy Kapur’s bum. In the hilarious Delhi Belly (2011), he washed the hell out of it with orange juice; in Rohan Sippy’s Nautanki Saala, he’s strutting his stuff, high on morphine.
As for Ayushmann Kkhhuurraanna (I really wish our actors would stop hanging out with numerologists so much), one could not be impressed with him enough after last year’s Vicky Donor.
So the two of them together in Nautanki Saala? We kind of loved the movie already. Except, you know how everyone’s always warning you about having sky-high expectations? Yes. That.
Somewhere in Mumbai, Mandar Lele (Kapur) is feeling suicidal — his girlfriend Nandini (Pooja Salvi) has walked out on him, his life has fallen apart, what’s the point, time to kill self. Enter Ram Parmar (Khurrana), good samaritan and sucker extraordinaire who not only saves Mandar from offing himself, but eventually pretty much adopts the six foot-something bumbling Mandar. They go from strangers to BFFs in no time, much to the extreme ire of RP’s girlfriend (Khurrana’s fellow MTV VJ Gaelyn Mendonca).
RP (this is Khurrana's nickname in the film. I’m not trying to be cute) is a theatre actor and director whose latest production, Ravanleela, is running successfully in the city. He makes some weak attempts to get rid of Mandar at first, but when they don't work, RP feels bad for him and decides to help the depressed, woebegone fellow out instead.
This is not easy. As RP himself says, trying to summarise the situation, “Dil ki lag gayi hai, nafrat karta hai apne aap se.” The heartbroken Mandar walks around bumping into things, filled with self-loathing, feeling like the greatest burden on earth. He’s convinced that his is the worst destiny in the world—if a bird has to take a dump, he explains, it will do so only in his coffee cup; if something must fall, it will wait to come crashing down on only his head, and so on.
Lucky for him, good ol’ RP is determined to turn things around for Mandar because, well, what are brand new BFFs for? In a bid to boost his confidence, he casts Mandar as Ram in his play, then marches over to Mandar's florist ex-girlfriend Nandini’s store to...well, I’m not sure what, I don’t think he thought this through either—find out if she’s still single, I think? Anyway, he ends up ordering a carful of flowers, and very quickly they fall in love and…then the script gets distracted, trips up and falls flat on its face.
This is a huge pity. Especially because technically there’s nothing else wrong with this movie—they’ve found some interesting locations and backdrops, the cinematography can’t be faulted, Ravanleela looks like a very cool play, and the performances by the two boys are effortless—they play off each other brilliantly and they’re both pretty hilarious. You'll laugh out loud during a scene in which there’s a dinner mix-up, for instance, and likely find yourself in splits when Mandar auditions for RP’s play.
Unfortunately, the funny bits are so far apart that you get a little impatient. It isn’t as though you’re making any emotional connect with the parallel love stories in between. It doesn’t help that the performances of all three women (Mendonca, Salvi and Evelyn Sharma) in this film are severely lacking. It feels like Sippy cast them, then shifted all his attention to Khurrana’s very expansive t-shirt wardrobe and forgot to get back to the waiting girls. So they do what they can on their own, but it isn’t good enough.
Also, I can’t figure out why no one in the industry has yet been able to perfect sexual tension and lip-locks that don’t make the audience cringe.
Of course Rohan Sippy loves (and I suspect is also a tad superstitious about) Abhishek Bachchan and, um, fish, so both make special appearances. Khurrana’s vocals dominate a nice chunk of the soundtrack, which isn’t bad and includes a nice and easy version of Dil Dhak Dhak by Saba Azad.
Should you watch it? Sure. Just don’t go in expecting the consistent satisfaction of a Delhi Belly or a Vicky Donor.
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