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“Nautanki Saala!” : Raavan Leela
19 November, 2013
This is a small film with a big heart that wins you with its situational comedy and witty one-liners.
Rohan Sippy adapts a French film and infuses it a with a Desi flavour, with his twisted (but confident) sense of humour.
Imagine naming the hero Rama and casting him as Raavan or Sita’s portrayal by a western looking Evelyn Sharma in The Ramayana.
Ayushmann Khurrana (who also sings some chart-busters in the film) is a successful stage actor, in a relationship with Gaelyn Mendonca.
He plays a Good Samaritan to a suicide-obsessed stranger, Kunaal Roy Kapur, with some unfortunate consequences.
Ayushmann finds out Kunal been ditched by his girlfriend Pooja Salvi (who has moved on to fresher pastures with a womaniser Rufy Khan ) and tries to play matchmaker but ends up falling in love with her.
(Are there shades from “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”? Is that why Pooja’s name is also Nandini like Aishwarya Rai’s was in the film?)
One would have imagined a dramatic conclusion to the film with this unpredictable love story but Rohan plays it safe.
He makes the final confrontation effective (that takes place in the live play with Ayushmann and Pooja) by underplaying, through a touching conversation between Raavan and Sita.
They speak the dialogues from the play that correlate flawlessly with the circumstances they are in.
The title “Nautanki Saala!” was suggested by Ramesh Sippy (Rohan’s father) from his film “Sholay” where Amitabh Bachchan uses it to describe Dharmendra.
Apart from the main actors, performances of the receptionist, the man at the restaurant, the drama director, “Ajji” and the psychiatrist, stand out.
The director makes a brief appearance.
Abhishek Bachchan has a cameo.
No write-up of “Nautanki Saala!” can be complete without mentioning the high production values and its foot-tapping songs.
(Rohan has learnt from his debacle of the catastrophic remixing of the song “Dum Maro Dum” and has compensated here.)
The world of theatre (shot in Mumbai’s Liberty-built in 1947- a 1200 seater art-deco cinema.) with its colourful interiors contrasts delightfully with the natural/pastel hues at the florists, where Pooja works.
(When was the last time you saw the opening/closing of the curtains in a single screen cinema that enhances a viewing experience?)
The music is a kaleidoscopic collection from various sources, mostly new and some old.
Saba Azad (last seen in “Mujhse Fraandship Karoge”) croons “Dhak Dhak” and “Dil Ki To Lag Gayee” with a gay abandon with the right touch of seductiveness and a trace of mischief.
The three heroines gyrate sensuously to Maduri's Dixit number from “Beta” with the iconic not-so-subtle body thrusts and backless-choli shoulder movements, during the end credits.
The film has the most original opening titles ever seen in Bollywood.
Each word/title flows with the movement in the background and blend “in the picture” rather than “independently”: the motion of the words synchronizing with the activity on the screen.
Recommended for an enjoyable home viewing experience as the action is mainly indoors.
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