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

January 9, 2009

The golden handshake

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:31 pm

January 09, 2009

Cast: Konkona Sensharma, Shernaz Patel, Anand Tiwari

Director: Kunal Roy Kapoor

A guaranteed good watch, The President Is Coming is a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek comment on our obsession with the White man and his world. It is in fact a sharp comedy done in ‘mockumentary’ style – an original take on the frenzy surrounding US President George Bush’s visit to India in 2006.

Fictionalising the drama and the cut-throat competition behind the selection of one young Indian picked to shake hands with Bush on his visit, the film focuses on six individuals from different social and economic backgrounds who are shortlisted by a PR agency and put through much training and testing before the most suitable candidate is chosen.

Over the course of one night, the six hopefuls – a pretentious novelist, a cocky accent coach, a money-fixated stock-broker, a nerdy software engineer, a boorish social-activist, and an air-headed heiress – reveal their real motivations for seeking the honour, and in the process unconsciously provide a glimpse into their prejudices and their character.

Uncontrollably funny for the most part, the film works on the strength of its smart dialogue and sturdy performances from the ensemble cast. Konkona Sensharma doesn’t miss a beat playing the self-righteous Bengali author, and Shernaz Patel as the bossy PR lady is spot on.

All actors, frankly, put up an excellent show, including the less familiar ones who shine with instinctive, spontaneous performances that catch you unaware and leave you cheering for more. Take for example the delightful Anand Tiwari who instantly wins your heart with his uproarious turn as the numbers-chewing Gujarati stock broker.

The film works because it never takes itself too seriously; holding nothing and no one too sacred to make a joke of. Hence that hilarious scene in which the six finalists are put through the identifying round, and their side-splitting responses to being shown the pictures of Osama bin Laden, Colin Powell and M Night Shyamalan among others.

Much like that little gem of 2007, Loins of Punjab Presents, this film too reinforces many old clichés to draw the laughs, but you’re willing to overlook most because they’re intended without malice. With as many as 15 rounds for the candidates to clear, the film does get tiresome towards the end, but wraps up neatly just as your attention begins to wane.

Adapted skillfully by writer Anuvab Pal and director Kunal Roy Kapoor from their play of the same name,The President Is Coming is an enjoyable film that pushes the boundaries of conventional storytelling. Three out of five and a thumbs up. Don’t miss this film or you’ll regret it.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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