Good films require innovation; bad ones are usually recipe-based. And the really terrible ones? Those are recipes gone horribly wrong. What the makers of The Xposé will have you believe is cinema is actually punch lines, and lots (and by lots, we mean nearly a dozen) of songs roughly chopped up and mashed together.
Add a poker-faced, nasal-toned lead actor, and you have what can only be a Himesh Reshammiya creation.
Is there a story? A whodunit, apparently, that’s terribly inspired. An actress falls off a building and dies, and now there are a bunch of murder suspects. A conscious ode to Teesri Manzil? It’s hard to tell for sure.
But story and plot movement here are of as much consequence as in a porn film. They are merely there, so you can get on with more pressing business.
That business here is of Himesh showcasing himself. He’s a cop-turned-south superstar (don’t ask how) Ravi Kumar, who’s now here to make a Bollywood debut. He’s also a caricaturish mash-up of other star personas. He’s Rajinikanth as he throws his hat on to a stand 10 feet away; and as he says, "Don’t ask me how I feel about coming to Bombay. Ask Bombay how it feels that I’m here."
He’s also the angry young man who shoots and beats people up at will. Mind you, it’s the ’60s, a good five years before either Amitabh Bachchan or Rajini will be on the scene. He’s also Salman Khan as he says, "You don’t have as much blood in your body, as Ravi Kumar can pee at a go." Totally badass, and utterly nonsensical (unless Mr Kumar has haematuria).
In ’60s Bollywood, apparently, all heroines were required to expose ("na dance, na expression, na pose, sirf expose," a director says), and all heroes are chauvinistic pigs. Think Pete Campbell from ’60s Mad Men. They sleep around, cheat on their wives and get to chide women for being immoral without getting slapped.
In his acting debut, Honey Singh (as music director Kenny Damania) gets a fair amount of screen time. And though he’s mostly required to sing, vigorously shake his head and be a lech, he is, in contrast to Plastic Reshammiya, a better actor.
Director Ananth Mahadevan plays a director in his own film. As an actor, he’s as niche as they come – the heart attack specialist. Remember Shah Rukh Khan’s dad from Baazigar? He doesn’t die here, but does get to clutch his chest and sputter. As for what Irrfan Khan (as a black ticket seller and the narrator) is doing here, we’re still wondering.
To be fair to Himesh, he deserves credit for delivering lines like "Ravi Kumar langot ka pakka hai…" with a straight face. Then again, we may be mistaking lack of expression for stoicism. As Ravi Kumar tells his director, "Whatever I utter becomes the script," it’s an unwittingly metaphor, what with Himesh taking story credit.
He’s the star: he sings, dances and raises a toast decadently like Jay Gatsby. He’s also Sherlock Holmes as he solves the case, albeit using not an iota of logic. In his self-created universe, he nose all. Sorry, knows all.