Punjab males runnin’ late
Yamla Pagla Deewana
Director: Samir Karnik
Actors: Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol
Bobby Deol stands with an arm candy on a parapet as daddy Dharmendra, and his sonny Deol, are locked in various duels. Why don’t you go fight, asks someone in this climax sequence. Why bother when there is Dharmendra and Sunny, says the Bobby boy, chucking for good any intentions of playing a character in a film. He’d rather engage in some “romaance,” he adds.
Music from Barsaat plays for background score. This is after Sunny paaji had walked in with a tube-well in his hand for a gun: a nod to the actor’s biggest commercial success, a certain post-Kargil delirium called Gadar. Dharmendra’s darling Bobby had also just imitated his dad’s infamous “chakki peesing” line atop a water tank from Sholay. Yamla pagla deewana is of course an old Dharmendra song popular for its music parodies - one of them done by the old man’s daughter (Esha Deol) herself in a little known movie called Na Tum Jaane Na Hum. Self-indulgence, let alone self-importance, doesn’t stop here. It just goes on and on.
Sholay for one, while still being 'Sholay', is a 35-year-old blockbuster for a nation whose median age currently is 25. Barsaat is a forgotten movie for anyone’s debut, and Gadar remains for most a dated, loud nightmare. The said scenes make for a fine trailer. It did, and probably brought in audiences for the first show.
Here’s what they got to watch for a feature length film: one half Dabanng, visiting dust of eastern Uttar Pradesh; the other half an extended DDLJ (Dilwale Dilwale Le Jayenge) set in a pind in Punjab -- eventually a deadening whole that appears at best an arithmetically sound, colossal bore.
The heroes here play three idiots of their own kind. The film opens into Varanasi, where neither of the father-son, old resident duo (Dharam, Bobby) could bother with replicating a basic accent. They conveniently con people for a living -- unsuspecting banks, jewelers, real estate buyers, and as it turns out, a member of their own family (Dharam paaji’s long lost son Sunny, back from ‘Caneda’!). They become a team of three. This caper could be fun. They head off instead to Punjab, looking for an audience in Toronto-Vancouver, and for Bobby, a bride.
Dullness creeps in. Drunken scenes get repeated. Men get moronically pasted on a wall with ‘Dharamcol’, an adhesive that can join the earth to the sky. Jokes lose impact. Songs screw up the flow. The trio bounces around a family mess. And then, Sunny paaji lands more than a few of those two and half kilogram punches, yells out aloud, breaks bones, buys more screen time, hopes for Chuck Norris / Rajnikanth SMS jokes around him. It’s a little too late.
The two leading men are already in the last leg of their career. Age is no accident. It gradually seeps into your life. A problem with living in the past is it doesn't pay your present rents. Nostalgia is cheap, and anyway an exaggeration.
Dharmendra is 75. Given no surgical help, he looks it. Sunny Deol is 54. He doesn’t act it. Their audiences moved on a while ago. Evidently, they never did: Apne, Right Ya Wrong, Fox, Kis Kiski Kismet… And this. Tsk. Sad. But true.