Direction: Sajid Khan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Ram Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Tamannah Bhatia
Humshakals opens with a 43-going-on-23 Saif Ali Khan trying his hand at stand-up comedy. He has a rich-boy name — Ashok Singhania — and lives in London, of course. What other city is worthy of a super-rich Indian who owns a Karan Johar-set-like mansion, to which he commutes in a private chopper with a tacky golden ‘S’ emblazoned on the side?
Watch Movie Review: Humshakals is utterly torturous!
So Singhania is a hotshot industrialist, but is apparently also passionate about upsetting audiences with terrible jokes (told in Hindi, no less). Ironically, he is the perfect representative of writer-director Sajid Khan, whose own low-IQ films are peppered with sad, often offensive jokes. This latest seems less a work of cinema and more a social experiment to test the lowest threshold for what can be passed off as entertainment.
Logic exists hastily, along with Ashok’s audience, and the hero, his sidekick Kumar (Ritesih Deshmukh) and their heroines (in dresses one size too small) proceed to dance through the streets, to some terrible lyrics. Later, they will dance again, this time through Kumar’s mansion, in nightclothes.Movie review: Humshakals is an insult to Jim Carrey, Kishore Kumar
Clearly out of new ideas, and having burnt his fingers with Himmatwala, Khan is now lifting set pieces from his own slapstick comedies, films that inexplicably had house-full runs.
A two-and-a-half hour assault on your intelligence, Humshakals was not content with just one Saif hamming and trying desperately to look young. Thanks to a shady scientist and some gobbledegook about chromosome restructuring, you get three Ashoks, three Kumars and three Ram Kapoors. Which brings us to Sajid Khan’s greatest feat as a director — being ambitious enough to try and fit them all into one frame.
The characters run around in circles, making stupid faces, cracking pathetic jokes and dressing in drag. Predictable confusion passes for plot.
What is truly baffling is why Saif would pick such a ridiculous role, again (wasn’t Bullett Raja a lesson?), and why Riteish continues to play the goofball in film after film.
Jokes rain down incessantly — increasingly unfunny, disparaging dwarves, the LGBT community, people from the north-east and the mentally challenged. Production values go down the drain; the filmmakers didn’t even bother to edit out the scenes where the lead is clearly wearing height-enhancing shoes while dancing.
As social experiments go, this one tests patience rather than intelligence. It takes every ounce of the former not to take the cue from Ashok’s audience at the outset and leave.