Being 'different' is the new catchword in tinsel town. Bollywood has been gripped by 'new wave cinema' and diverse subjects are being attempted to woo the 'multiplex audiences'.
Inspired by the play LAST TANGO IN HEAVEN, Bharat Dabholkar's GOD ONLY KNOWS! spoofs almost everything under the sun, from Bollywood, politics, hospitals, income tax to ad films.
At times, the comedy works, but there are times when the humour simply falls flat!
The king of Gods Lord Indra [Dilip Prabhavalkar] desires to see a 20th century man. But what he gets is much more than he has bargained for, when Narad [Vihang Nayak] gets a corrupt minister to the Gates of Heaven.
The minister [Anjan Shrivastava], a thorough-bred political animal, falls prey not to the godly aura of heaven or its seductive apsaras, but to the alluring grandeur of 'Indrasan' Indra's celestial throne.
This is the kursi of his dreams, the ultimate seat of power!
The devious minister immediately gets to work. Having convinced Indra to let him remain in heaven for a week, he gets his secretary [Kishore Pradhan] from earth. He then starts using all his earthly political wisdom to form an opposition party from amongst the celestial host.
The powerful but gullible Yumraaj [Vijoo Khote] the Lord of Death is convinced and the first heavenly opposition is born.
Elections break out in swarg and when all constitutional means fail to avoid a 'hung parliament', a political qawwali resolves the problem.
Given the kind of story the film boasts of, Bharat Dabholkar [credited with the story, screenplay, dialogues, direction of the film] takes potshots at politics and politicians, but the tongue in cheek humour will be identified and appreciated by the upper strata; for the rest, it may be difficult to comprehend with.
The first half of the enterprise is a 'complete time pass', with a few sequences making you break into peels of laughter. For instance, the hospital sequence, when the politician goes for a surgery and the 'schemes' Dr. Nitu Mandke offers, is sure to bring the house down.
The interaction between the politician and Menaka in the Garden of Heaven is equally well shot.
But the story stagnates in the second half. Actually, the story comes to a screeching halt as the two sides led by Lord Indra and the politician, respectively start campaigning for the elections in swarglok.
The hiring of an ad agency to give a positive image to Yumraaj was a novel concept, but somehow its execution is not as convincing. It tries too hard to make you laugh and that is its biggest problem!
Besides, the climax when all 'detractors' including Yumraaj realise their folly and apologise to Lord Indra appears tame and falls flat. The change of heart looks too sudden and is difficult to stomach.
Also, the film tends to get theatrical at times. Even the length could've been controlled. The pralay in the conclusive phase of the film [although well shot] appears forced in the goings-on.
Director Bharat Dabholkar has handled a few sequences with aplomb, but the scripting leaves something to be desired. Though he has some novel ideas to offer, the execution doesn't come across as convincingly.
Music is an asset. The humour in the lyrics is worth noting. Cinematography is up to the mark. The sets are just right. Dialogues are well-worded, emphasising on hilarity and mirth.
The four principal characters Anjan Shrivastava, Vihang Nayak, Vijoo Khote and Dilip Prabhavalkar are the scene stealers. Sharbani Mukherji is adequate. Kishore Pradhan [minister's secretary], Suresh Menon [ad man], Shahriyar Atai [Kamdev], Vijay Patkar [Yumdoot] and Benika [ad woman] lend adequate support. Ananya's dance numbers are appealing.
On the whole, GOD ONLY KNOWS! caters to a niche audience. At the box-office, the sardonic humour will find takers in Mumbai mainly. At other places, its outcome will be? God only knows!