Fruit & Nut
Cast: Cyrus Broacha, Boman Irani, Mahesh Manjrekar
Direction: Kunal Vijaykar
Rating: * & 1/2
First the Portuguese screwed Mumbai over; then the Brits did; now Himesh does. So says Boman Irani’s brilliant Holkar, the lewd pun of his surname, like all puns, being intended of course.
Holkar was once Maharaja of Mumbai. He’s now Irani’s own version of Austin Powers’ Dr Evil. He wants to blow up drain-pipes below Mantralaya, Maharashtra’s seat of power, where the Congress-NCP will host their successive champagne party soon.
Holkar believes his ancestral palace lies buried under the Mumbai building. Dia Mirza, the item number, plays the architect, who can help with the gutter-plan. Mahesh Manjrekar as her “maker”, her father being the “pregnator”, is the heritage conservationist and builder.
Between these three, this tireless nuttiness, named after the choicest of Cadbury’s chocolates, seems complete. You wonder where Cyrus Broacha fits in. He is indisputably India’s funniest stand-up comedian in the western sense of the word. Indian indigenous sit-down humour largely belongs to ‘hasya kavis’: part-poetry, part-comedy, too literary for masses’ tastes. Those we know as laughter champions are either rehearsed mimics or ‘chutkula lekhaks’ (joke meisters): hardly laudable comedians.
Broacha, on the other hand, has entertained us for years, more as a pundit of puns, and a sultan of spontaneous gags. We owe him many television laughs (even stage now, if his debut as a stand-up act in a supremely hilarious Cyrusitis is anything to go by)
Here, as movie hero, he does instead the relatively cheap slapstick, of the peeing in your pants variety. He constantly slips on the floor, adjusts his boxers, wastes our time. So he’s there, but we miss him, because mere puns don’t make for motion-picture, and you can judge spontaneity only that much within a film script.
You hope the other nut-cracking caricatures work, even if they appear without any context. Two of them do actually: geriatric hit-men, “Osama bin bulaye Laden” Salim and Suleiman of the Harappa and Mohenjodaro vintage. Everyone else repeatedly grates on your nerves as they play Kaun Banega Swargvasi. Nope, you can’t be “toilerating” this beyond a point.
Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, a text-book of this genre, was a movie first, madcap later. This is what they call mindless comedy: infinitely more mindless than comedy. Some vignettes could make it on Cyrus and director Kunal Vijaykar’s television gags; most others, on an inter-collegiate short skit romp. You serially sigh then, to quote this film: “Kyun takleef utha rahein hain – Why are they lifting trouble!” I mean this for cinema audiences of course.