Bollywood’s Latest Release a True Masala Film, Will Challenge ‘Jessica’
: Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol
Director: Samir Karnik
Starring a brooding Bollywood superstar of yesteryear and his two sons, Yamla Pagla Deewana is much more of a nostalgic trip down memory lane than a substantively qualitative film blowing air up a critic’s rear end. Yet, for Hindi film fans who will trek to multiplexes this weekend to choose between one of two new releases in the second batch of fresh content, odds are throngs of audiences will reminisce about the days when Dharmendra headlined the industry’s biggest blockbusters. While the old school icon is back on the big screen, this time with his two sons Sunny and Bobby, fans ought to note that Dharmendra and, to a slightly lesser extent, the Deol brothers are really the only significant reasons to watch Samir Karnik’s Yamla Pagla Deewana.
In many ways, Yamla Pagla Deewana is a pleasant throwback to 1980s-style masala film, with over-the-top comedy and hysterically exaggerated interactions between hero and villain. Accordingly, Dharmendra could not have been better cast, as the former Sholay made quite the name for himself 30 years ago doing all the things on display in today’s Yamla Pagla Deewana. Just the same, while Mr. Karnik’s film is firmly nestled in the comedy genre, the normally-action-film-starring Deol brothers are also ideally cast for their roles the same way Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker ideally fit the theme of the Hollywood action-comedy franchise in Rush Hour.
All the above being said, Yamla Pagla Deewana is more the tribute to Dharmendra than it is reflective of 21st century Bollywood. In place of witty dialog and a progressive storyline, there is cheesy comedy and overly dramatic acting. Basically, Yamla Pagla Deewana reeks of 1980s Hindi blockbuster cinema. Oddly enough, that is not a bad thing, even though a few critics may say otherwise.
To be sure, there are indeed moments where audiences will be more confused than humored by what they are watching on screen. Even more, there are moments when the film’s editing is clearly choppy, and it appears as if Bollywood has not at all progressed in the fields of camerawork, makeup, pacing, and cinematography in the last three decades. Worse yet, many of the film’s item songs just do not work.
Still, Dharmendra reminds fans why he was such an icon during the heyday of Bollywood, all while Sunny Deol shines as a top-rate comic, despite his solid forte as an action star.
Speaking of comedy, there is not a shortage of jokes or mayhem. Clearly some go over real well while audiences will be scratching their collective heads at others, but nary has a comedy film ever hit the bull’s-eye with every singly funny line or reference.
As the film truly finds its calling in the second half, what with funny scene after funny scene just hitting the audience in waves, Yamla Pagla Deewana does just enough to satisfy. Sure, one can clearly expect more from this film, but then again, on sheer entertainment value, Yamla Pagla Deewana delivers.
For those of you curious as to what Yamla Pagla Deewana
is actually about: Dharmendra stars as a charming but morally bankrupt conman who abandons his family. One of the fictional character’s two sons (played by Bobby Deol) is separated from his family and sets out to find his father (Dharmendra) and brother (Sunny Deol). Along the way, there is an affair, an ill-conceived meeting of the two brothers, and a marriage--all of which lead to a chaotic conclusion.
The only acting performances to note are of the three leads: Dharmendra and his two sons, Sunny and Bobby. Dharmendra is his stellar self, miraculously maintaining similar charm and flair that defined him as the brooding superstar he was more than three decades ago. To that end, Mr. Karnik fulfilled his purpose in making Yamla Pagla Deewana quite the tribute to one of Bollywood’s most celebrated and revered stars.
Sunny Deol is quite impressive as well, finding his groove and delivering his lines with punch and pizzazz. Go figure Sunny, who usually falls into action films, would have a knack for being a leading funny man.
Meanwhile, Bobby Deol is perhaps the only disappointment. A loud, happy-go-lucky character, Bobby Deol’s Gajodhar can be a tad annoying and obnoxious at times, mostly because of the actor being a tad too much into his role. Unfortunately for Bobby, he ends up playing second fiddle to his father and brother.
Bottom line: Yamla Pagla Deewana is expected to be two things to its audiences: an entertaining comedy, and a reminder of the greatness that once was Dharmendra (even though Hema Malini is nowhere to be found).
As long as you walk into multiplexes this weekend willing to laugh your socks off while reminiscing of the Bollywood of yesteryear, then Yamla Pagla Deewana is the film for you. Otherwise, for more qualitative and serious cinema, last week's release of No One Killed Jessica fits the bill. And if you are really bored this weekend and just want to get away, there is always the disappointing coming-of-age flick, Turning 30.