Now here's yet another film that places its story on Rajpal Yadav's shoulders. This time, Rajpal has Johny Lever for company. MASTI EXPRESS, helmed by first-time director Vikram Pradhan, has two stories running concurrently: Rajpal and his wife Divya Dutta's fervent desire to have their kid educated at a respectable institution and the auto rickshaw race that forms the crux of the story.
Quite an interesting idea, I must add, but interesting ideas don't necessarily translate into fascinating cinematic experiences. The problem is, MASTI EXPRESS appeals in parts, not in its entirety. At places, the film is engaging, but there are times when it comes across as a yawn-inducing attempt. The screenplay writing is clearly the culprit here!
MASTI EXPRESS tells the story of a father [Rajpal Yadav], who desperately tries to get his only child admitted to a renowned school and provide him education. His son is just another brat in a slum with an uninspiring future. The son is refused admission initially, but later, when the father faces a lot of obstacles and wins an auto rickshaw race with the help of the school kids, the Principal [Manoj Joshi] opens the doors of his school to the kid.
The director tries to pack just about everything to make the film palatable to the junta janardhan. He decides to pander to the commercial diktats by injecting songs on guest stars [filmed on Shankar Mahadevan and Kashmira Shah, respectively] and also instill comedy in the narrative. Sadly, one doesn't laugh at the jokes [which are crass anyways], the songs too act as speed breakers, while the kiddie portions are half-baked. Ideally, the director could've avoided the unwanted add-ons [including the characters that suddenly arrive from other states to participate in the race] and the editor should've trimmed the film judiciously for a better impact.
On the brighter side, Pradhan has handled a few sequences expertly. Note the sequence when Rajpal cooks an alibi as soon as Divya Dutta enquires whether their kid has been granted admission in the school or not. Prior to that Rajpal's sequence with the School Principal [Manoj Joshi] also stands out. Also, note the sequence when Divya tries to pacify a heart-broken Rajpal after the auto rickshaw accident. Besides, the finale, when Rajpal actually pulls the auto rickshaw to the winning post, moves you. The auto rickshaw race is interesting in parts, while the attempt to inject humor during the race falls flat.
Like I pointed out earlier, the songs don't help in carrying the film forward, except for one song when the auto rickshaw is being repaired. However, the background score is effective, especially towards the finale. The cinematography is inconsistent.
Given the fact that the story of MASTI EXPRESS rests on his shoulders, one expects Rajpal to deliver a stunning performance, but he doesn't. He is decent at best and there are times when one feels that he's hamming big time. Johny Lever is loud, but that's how his character is perceived. Divya Dutta stands out with a striking performance. Vijay Patkar is just right, Razzaq Khan gets to deliver some funny lines, while Rajkumar Kanojia is passable. Manoj Joshi is strictly okay. Ryan Pinto has screen presence and also has the trappings of a fine actor, provided he gets the right parts to portray.
On the whole, MASTI EXPRESS falls short of expectations. Besides, the film has arrived with zilch hype and that will make the effort go disregarded.