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

December 4, 2020

Bheja Fry review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 5:11 pm

April 13, 2007

Cast: Sarika, Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Milind Soman, Bhairavi Goswami

Director: Sagar Bellary

Everyone loves a good laugh, and I’m no different. Director Sagar Bellary’s Bheja Fry which opens at cinemas this week is a cleverly-written and competently-enacted comedy which stars Rajat Kapoor as a selfish and insensitive man whose idea of Friday night entertainment involves a party where unsuspecting, dim-witted victims provide laughs to his group of like-minded, shallow friends.

One such victim, Vinay Pathak — an income-tax officer with an annoying singing habit — visits Rajat at his home one Friday, excited to be invited for a dinner party. But the joke turns out to be on Rajat eventually, when he watches his life fall apart just moments after this bumbling fool walks through the door.

His wife decides to leave him, his nympho mistress decides to show up, his back is killing him from an earlier injury, the fear of an income-tax raid is looming over his head, he’s forced to confront a friend he’d wronged some years ago, and this idiot at his home is the man responsible for most of these catastrophes.

While it’s true this film is somewhat entertaining and much of the humour is derived from its rock-solid script, let me be the party-pooper here by revealing that Bheja Fry is a scene-by-scene, dialogue-by-dialogue remake of the superhit French farce The Dinner Game, which, if you remember clearly I’d recommended on this show some months ago.

You see, Bheja Fry isn’t ‘inspired’ or ‘borrowed’ or ‘influenced’ from the original film, it’s an out-and-out remake. One can only hope that remake rights were bought from the makers of the French film, although I didn’t see any acknowledgement of the same in the film’s credits, and in fact I saw this film’s screenplay credited to two persons, which if you ask me is shocking, considering the only real work on the script would be in the form of translation.

Now that I’ve cleared my conscience and made the point about plagiarism, let me confess Bheja Fry does have more than just a handful of hilarious moments, most of which are provided by the imaginative screenplay and dialogue.

The film’s director Sagar Bellary rarely digresses from the plot and the narrative of the original French film, although he does make a few significant changes. Like the fact that Rajat’s wife role is a little more fleshed out in Bheja Fry than it was in the original film — Bellary gives Sarika a career and a back-story, but then he botches it all up by failing to show clearly the building resentment Sarika feels towards her husband, and the reason for this.

The only other major change is that in the original film, the idiot protagonist had the annoying habit of discussing his passion for making matchstick models of famous buildings, but in Bheja Fry, it’s Vinay Pathak’s irritating habit of breaking into a song and his childish enthusiasm at showing off his scrapbook that makes him the perfect candidate for this idiot’s dinner.

If you ask me to nitpick, I’d say I was a little disappointed with Ranvir Shorey’s performance in the film. Which is surprising, I know, because Ranvir is fast emerging a comic genius. But in Bheja Fry where he’s playing Vinay’s best friend and colleague, Ranvir overdoes it a little by playing his part as a caricature and not as a flesh-and-blood character who one might be able to relate to.

Also was it just me or did you also notice how midway through the film, Rajat Kapoor suddenly seems to have recovered from his back injury — in no time at all, he’s walking about and fixing a meal and setting the table. Wasn’t it just moments ago that he was moaning and groaning in pain, unable to move by himself?

Another problem I have with the film is the seemingly insignificant but in reality, the shockingly careless insinuation that Ranvir Shorey is a pro-Pakistan, anti-India cricket-buff simply because he’s Muslim. That may have been only a passing reference in the film, but it’s horribly racist, it’s an unfair stereotype, and it could have been easily avoided.

The funnier moments in Bheja Fry are provided by Vinay Pathak, who manages to give his character a few quirks of his own, even though its more-or-less modeled exactly after the role played by the excellent French actor Jacques Villeret in the original film.

In all fairness, Vinay Pathak is priceless particularly in those scenes in which he packs and unpacks his scrapbook, and then those scenes in which he makes sure nobody’s looking when he’s tackling the combination code on his briefcase.

It’s a testament to the strength of the script that the film doesn’t slip despite mediocre performances by Bhairavi Goswami and Tom Alter who play Rajat’s mistress and his doctor respectively.

Sarika, on the other hand, delivers a credible performance — perhaps the most credible of the lot — when she plays the wife as a real person and not the cliché that we have come to see in most movies these days.

Thankfully, Bheja Fry doesn’t fry your brains like the title threatens to, in fact it’s got a handful of moments that will make you laugh out loud — my favourite is that scene in which Rajat’s mistress is unable to understand a word he’s been using to describe her, until Vinay translates it for her, much to Rajat’s horror.

Or that one in which Ranvir calls up his wife who’s in the middle of an adulterous tryst to tell her he knows what she’s upto. It’s really moments like these that you’ll remember even after you’ve left the cinema. I’m going to go with two out of five for this week’s Bheja Fry, it’s funny in parts so give it a chance. But no points for writing or directing as it’s a faithful remake of an earlier film. I just wish the filmmakers had acknowledged that.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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