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

October 10, 2014

Message in a throttle

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:32 pm

October 10, 2014

Cast: Anupam Kher, Divyendu Sharma, Manu Rishi Chadha, Rajesh Sharma, Neha Dhupia, Aditi Sharma, Sudhir Pandey

Director: Ravindra Gautam

Buried beneath the farcical humor, melodramatic performances and manipulative tear-jerking in Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami is a well-intentioned message movie about the value of honesty. The film is positioned as a satire about politics and corruption, and Rahil Qazi’s script makes veiled references to well-known leaders and headline-grabbing events. But Qazi and director Ravindra Gautam can’t seem to strike a consistent tone for their storytelling, see-sawing unevenly between broad humor and genuine pathos.

Anupam Kher is Purushottam Narayan Joshi, a lower middle-class BMC employee who prides himself on being upright to a fault. Unfortunately this earns him scant respect from his two sons Shekhar (Manu Rishi Chadha), and particularly Subhash (Divyendu Sharma) who is a party worker for the corrupt chief minister (Rajesh Sharma). When Joshi Sr is dishonorably discharged on a false corruption charge on his retirement day, he dies of shock. It’s up to his sons now to fulfill his dying wish – the old man wants a 21-gun salute for leading a life of unflinching honesty. Enlisting the help of his girlfriend (Aditi Sharma), the speech-writer of the CM, Subash embarks upon a mission to pull off this impossible feat.

Constructed around this promising premise, the film’s makers nevertheless stretch their story to breaking point as it plods on indulgently for 2 hours and 20 minutes. There are moments of terrific humor, most involving Neha Dhupia’s buxom starlet (one of the best things in the film) who is having an affair with the chief minister. Another hilarious track involves Sudhir Pandey becoming a reluctant replacement for Joshi’s corpse.

Much of the second half is evidently inspired from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, but there is none of that film’s sparkling wit at display here. The final scenes are unabashedly schmaltzy, and while the message itself is important, it is conveyed with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

I’m going with two out of five for Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami. Promising but doesn’t quite take flight.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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