Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

March 5, 2010

Overstays its welcome

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:52 pm

March 05, 2010

Cast: Ajay Devgan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Paresh Rawal

Director: Ashwani Dhir

Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? starring Paresh Rawal as a houseguest who overstays his welcome, makes for a terrific premise for a television sitcom, but doesn’t lend itself comfortably to a feature-length film.

Directed by Ashwani Dhir, the movie stars Ajay Devgan and Konkona Sen Sharma as a married couple who must contend with an annoying uncle who lands up unannounced one day, and shows no signs of leaving even two months later.

Rawal’s character, Lambodar chacha is up at the crack of dawn and gargles loud enough to wake up the dead. He drives away the maid, demands elaborate meals, and isn’t the least bit embarrassed of his flatulence problem. No wonder his hosts want him out at any cost, going so far as to hire an underworld don to drive him away.

For as long as the film sticks to its comic tone, there is pleasure to be had in its silly yet disarming jokes. I thoroughly enjoyed a gag involving Lambodar chacha’s encounter with actor Viju Khote on a film set, and the subsequent havoc he creates chasing the actor around, begging him to repeat his popular dialogue from Sholay over and over again. It’s a hilarious sequence, and one that ends with a ‘bang’, literally borrowed from the Peter Sellers comedy, The Party.

Unfortunately the film slips into a preachy, melodramatic tone from this point on, delivering labored messages about guests being equal to God, and about the responsibility that children owe their parents. The climax, too, is an over-sentimental mess that is unnecessarily exaggerated and hence fails to strike a chord.

Ajay Devgan and Konkona Sen Sharma, credible actors both, sportingly participate in much of the film’s idiocy, and yet succeed in never turning this film into the kind of offensive, unwatchable comedy that it might have easily become in the hands of such actors as Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor who could learn a thing or two about restraint from the leads in this film. Paresh Rawal has played this kind of role many times, and in this film he alternates between amusing and infuriating, depending on the quality of the scenes he’s performing.

Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? is adapted from a short story by Sharad Joshi, and needed to be fleshed out better before making the transition to film. With better writing it might have been a crackling piece of comedy. As it is now, it’s a reasonably enjoyable weekend watch.

I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Ashwani Dhir’s Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge. One of the funniest bits in the film is a bhajan that Lambodar chacha breaks into, set to the tune of a popular Bollywood chartbuster. Keep your expectations low and perhaps you won’t be too disappointed.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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