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

April 12, 2013

Play acting

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:50 pm

April 12, 2013

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kunal Roy Kapur, Pooja Salvi, Gaelyn Mendonca, Sulbha Arya, Evelyn Sharma

Director: Rohan Sippy

Nautanki Saala, directed by Rohan Sippy, hinges on the wobbly notion that if you save someone’s life, he becomes your responsibility.

Ayushmann Khurrana plays Ram Parmar, or RP, a kind-natured theatre actor who, while rushing home after work one night, notices a random stranger trying to kill himself. RP stops the fellow – a homeless, heartbroken chap named Mandar Lele (Kunal Roy Kapur) – then proceeds to straighten out the poor sap’s life, first by allowing him to crash at the home RP shares with his girlfriend, then by reuniting him with his ex, ditzy florist Nandini (Pooja Salvi). But as often tends to happen in such films, RP ends up falling for Nandini too.

Based on the 2003 French film Apres Vous, set in a Parisian restaurant, Nautanki Saala stages its comedy against the backdrop of a long-running play. Although intended as a farce, the film is never as outrageous as it needs to be, settling instead for the kind of inoffensive silliness that’s often plain boring. RP’s attempts to break up Nandini and her new lover come off as infantile, and his unwavering commitment to help Mandar is puzzling after a point.

The film works best in its most zany moments, like the portion where RP mimes words and phrases discreetly to help Mandar get through an acting audition. Or an earlier scene where RP must read Mandar’s suicide note to his cataract-afflicted grandmother, changing the words as he goes to make it more upbeat. There are some nice supporting characters too, who pop up occasionally to deliver a few laughs. Like the effete producer of RP’s play, who is at his wit’s end with Mandar during his audition, yet agrees to cast him when RP offers a sweet trade-off. Even the Malayali hospital receptionist who needs an interpreter to unscramble her rushed instructions.

But alas such genuinely inventive bits are few and far between in this muddled film that becomes a sentimental love triangle midway. What sucks the soul out of Nautanki Saala is the unfathomable casting of the vapid female lead. Newcomer Pooja Salvi is about as expressive as a sack of grains. She contributes little here, beyond batting her eyelids while seesawing from one man to another.

Ayushmann Khurrana carries forward his confidence from Vicky Donor, yet he’s exasperatingly over-animated and too slick for a character that needed to ooze a naïve sincerity. It’s Kunal Roy Kapoor as the slobbering, sloppy man-child Mandar, who wins your heart with his nicely understated performance.

Like previous films directed by Sippy, Nautanki Saala has a winning soundtrack, and unfolds across real locations in South Mumbai, a part of the city rarely seen in our movies. Still, they contribute little to the film’s slight, over-stretched premise, and the portions at the theatre are needlessly long and not particularly funny.

I’m going with two out of five for Nautanki Saala. Sippy never brings the lightness of touch needed to pull off this kind of film. Like the title suggests, it’s all empty theatrics. And wait, the film also has the unique distinction of capturing one of the longest on-screen smooches in a long time…shot in such excruciating close-up that you might throw up your lunch.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. This movie was a total snooze fest!! I think you’re being too kind with the review. My take would be 1 star. The second half gave me no laughs and was excruciatingly painful to sit through. Pooja Salvi should quit acting pronto. I was very disappointed by Ayushmaan particularly, He had such a promising debut but was pretty bad in the movie. Also he comes across as an over confident actor ( also known as Ranveer Singh syndrome). Kumal Roy Kapur is good initially but soon gets extremely monotonous with the saaaaame expressions. Overall, Its a crap movie.

    Comment by Dex — April 12, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

  2. u ve been cruel, movie has its flaws i agree
    but i felt it was lovable… ayushmann was grt.. chemistry btween the boys was un expected
    feels good when u leave the theatre but if u dnt like too much talkin (harry met sally types) then its boring.

    Comment by darshan — April 13, 2013 @ 12:42 am

  3. first 20 minutes promised a great joy ride,but alas,that was it.The movie continued going downhill.coming from the directer who gave us ‘dum maro dum’.actually didn’t expect much from him.but ayushman khurna,has really selected a poor script after his fab debut.The main lead herione(nandani patel in the movie)was actually the most boring part in the movie.TOTALLY DISAPPOINTED.

    Comment by amol shinde — April 13, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

  4. I am great fan of Rajeev Masand and i love his observation ….But sorry i dnt agree with him this time…He is too Harsh on this movie……I think Movie has a lott to offer….Its different from those silly common types comic movie …..Ayushman as an actor is brilliant , even some of the emotional scene , he carry it in a brilliant way…Kunal kapoor role and expression was excellent…..Music and Lyric was the soul in this movie…….All n All total Paisa Wasool…If as an audience one is bore of those usual silly types of senseless comedies…This movie has something new to offer……3.5 stars out of 5

    Comment by Gaurav Singh — April 14, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

  5. movie was for classsssss audience……………………………………………samaj mein nahi aaayiiiiiiiii

    Comment by kareen kapoor — April 14, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  6. Well Said Dex… Although i believe 2 stars are ok as it does give you few genuine laughs.. And Kunal rightly gets monotonous after some time.. The girls are potrayed as dumb as they could be.. I did not hear one sentence from Evelyn Sharma.. We need to get over having cute foreigners in a dumb role just for seduction purposes.. Rohan Sippy seriously needs to work on his craft… But it was a well designed movie… overall..

    Comment by harsh agarwal — April 14, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  7. Not as good good as compared to his earlier film (Vicky Donor). This one seemed fake, bit of overacting from all acctors & not natural. It also seemed predictable after a while and you could guess where it is heading.

    Comment by Sameer Mathur — April 15, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

  8. why 2 stars???? its a total junk…. I mean no story…. watch the previous movies of both, Delhi belly and Vicky Donor and compare….

    Comment by Harsh — April 15, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

  9. Utter nonsense movie. Save money for other noble causes.

    Comment by Vijay — April 21, 2013 @ 12:03 am

  10. The characters were loosely built, especially the female protaganoist, Nandini. Saving grace was the music. It was an average movie with loose ends. One time dekho if you are into sappy love stories.

    Comment by Abhishek — April 26, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  11. i will disagree at just one point..it isnt Kunal who impresses.. he is not utilized well at all.. he was much much better in delly belly. its AK who wins hands down. The parts where this movie had some energy were the ones where AK appeared. rest…they are not worth any mention here

    Comment by nidhi — May 3, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

  12. For all masala movie lovers, u will not find this movie exciting. Heck, i dnt care about others but this film is very good, especially RP n Mandar Lele. A film to be enjoyed carrying a bucket of popcorn besides u. Kunal Roy Kapur is awesmoe n plays his part perfectly.

    My Rating: ***/5

    Comment by Kiran Kesarkar — May 8, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

  13. Movie was a big pile of shit! Godd the way these female characters are cast.. it’s an utter insult to all women!!! How the heck did aayushman’s character fall in love with Nandini?? I mean, she was the kind of woman, a man would probably just take for a one night ride and ditch her, that’s how dumb she was.. total bimbo. She ruined 85% of the movie for me.. The rest was ruined by AK’s overconfident acting.
    Had the lead woman been a real stunner in terms of “Character” with some depth, the story could’ve meant something.

    Comment by Shridevi J — November 24, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

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