Seriously, it’s damn difficult to poke fun at oneself. More so, if the film-maker has delivered an unmitigated disaster in the past. But Sajid Khan has learnt to laugh at himself.
Sample this: In an important sequence in HUMSHAKALS, Satish Shah — who portrays the part of the warden in a mental asylum — decides to teach Saif, Riteish and Ram Kapoor [who attempt to flee the mental asylum] a lesson they’d never forget. “I am going to inflict the biggest torture on you guys,” he tells the trio, before proceeding to show them — hold your breath — Sajid’s own HIMMATWALA. In the end [while showing the footage during the end credits], Satish Shah takes out the DVD of Sajid’s sister Farah Khan’s TEES MAAR KHAN to inflict torture on the trio.
You can’t help but laugh at this genuinely funny jibe that Sajid cracks on himself and his sister. Unfortunately, the laughs are scattered and few and far between in HUMSHAKALS.
That Sajid Khan has a wacky sense of humour and makes zany, over the top entertainers is known to all and sundry. In his latest outing HUMSHAKALS, Sajid attempts a crazy entertainer yet again, but peppers it with inane, ridiculous episodes that makes you wonder, is this for real? I mean, there’s a drug that would make you behave like a dog for a day… a sneeze that could make someone so infuriated that he bays for your blood; the only way to calm him down is by offering him a lollipop… a spray can transform men into sex-maniacs… a comatose patient can be alright when people start fidgeting with the medical apparatus, thinking it to be some sort of a video game… oh yes, there’s a Prince Charles look-alike too, who breaks into Hindi in a bizarre climax.
Sure, we relish madcap entertainers, but what Sajid serves in HUMSHAKALS transcends all limits!
The story revolves around a greedy uncle [Ram Kapoor] of a tycoon, Ashok [Saif Ali Khan], who hatches a plot to usurp the riches unscrupulously. While the uncle connives with his doctor-friend [Nawwab Shah] to grab the fortune, complications arise when they discover the look-alikes of Ashok and his friend Kumar [Riteish Deshmukh].
Bollywood’s obsession with double roles [many, many films], triple roles [recall Amitabh Bachchan‘s triple role in MAHAAN or Rajinikanth‘s triple role in JOHN JANI JANARDHAN], even multiple roles [Sanjeev Kumar reprised as many as nine roles in NAYA DIN NAI RAAT] is too well known. But Sajid Khan’s HUMSHAKALS is, perhaps, the first Hindi movie that has each of the three male leads [Saif, Riteish and Ram Kapoor] reprising triple roles.
Like his cinema or not, Sajid’s laughathons have regaled the spectators since his big screen debut [HEYY BABYY; 2007]. Over the years, the HOUSEFULL franchise — HOUSEFULL and HOUSEFULL-2 — have only cemented his status as an entertainer who endeavours to make the audience flex their facial muscles in those 2+ hours. The only sore point in his career has been HIMMATWALA, but one expects him to bounce back with renewed vigour with HUMSHAKALS.
Handling a complicated screenplay is indeed demanding — an arduous task, frankly — but Sajid has, in the past, handled multiple characters in most of his films. Nonetheless, the script of HUMSHAKALS falls into a new terrain completely and the going can be slippery if it lacks the grip. Of course, the intent — providing laughs and offering entertainment — remains the same, but the triple roles have to ensure abundant entertainment for you to relish the ride. While Sajid keeps the storytelling simple and uncomplicated, the fun quotient is missing for most parts, appearing in bits and spurts only.
While HUMSHAKALS begins on a promising note — it’s a premise ripe with comic potential — the graph only spirals southwards barely fifteen minutes into the film. It’s not sacrilege to attempt a no-brainer — the audience loves it — but the smiles/guffaw/laughter should never be in short supply. With a run time of approx. 2.30 hours, HUMSHAKALS drains you at the end of it, despite the actors putting their best foot forward and trying so so so hard to make you giggle even when the gags are weak. The banal jokes and the lame PJs coupled with the muddled screenplay are clearly responsible for the royal mess.
It’s sad to see Sajid going wrong yet again. HEYY BABYY, HOUSEFULL and HOUSEFULL-2 weren’t path-breaking films, but they entertained. Period. HUMSHAKALS doesn’t.
The soundtrack is pleasant, with the composer belting out a couple of hummable tunes. The plush locales of London and the grandiose production design gives the film the required scale.
HUMSHAKALS belongs to Riteish, who proves, yet again, that he has an incredible timing for comedy. Watch him in all three roles and you’d agree, he adds so much to the sequences. Saif steps into a new territory with this one, but there are times when he looks out of place completely. Ram Kapoor too gets to portray parts that demand him to go over the top and the actor does complete justice to them. The leading ladies — Bipasha, Tamannaah and Esha Gupta — are pure eye candies. They don’t get much screen time actually. Satish Shah is hilarious and brings the house down. Nawwab Shah is efficient, as always. Chunkey Pandey is wasted. Ditto for Aakash Khurana and Suresh Menon. Darshan Jariwala is alright.
On the whole, HUMSHAKALS tries too hard to make you laugh, but fails miserably.