Short Kut — The Con Is On
Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Arshad Warsi
Direction: Neeraj Vora
The hero of this film (Arshad Warsi), who incidentally also plays a hero in the film, has a battery of loafers hanging around to advise him on what should go into the script he’s currently filming. He spots a leading lady he fancies at his hotel, and insists on an ‘item number’ with her in the movie being shot next-door. He is a hopeless duffer. But that doesn’t stop him from becoming a super-star. He continues to act in third-rate flicks the way he does. It doesn’t seem to matter. Fans chase him around nonetheless: movie-fame being inversely proportional to talent.
There is a sincere screenwriter (Akshaye Khanna) on the other hand who struggles through hours to figure out the end, or the climax, to his stories. His colleagues worship his work as assistant director. He is an inspired man. Yet, success eludes him. He cannot see his first film through. When he does finish a cracker script, the said wannabe hero steals the screenplay from over his table, and scripts his own path to fame.
At some point through this relentless rubbish, I wondered if the entire movie is a take on itself. It couldn’t be. The makers appear too self-serious to occasion such expensive, self-deprecating humour.
The screenplay here has been wholly lifted from a Malayalam original Udayananu Tharam. The idea was remade into Tamil as Velli Tharai (Silver Screen) — a reasonably earnest regional film with a solid final sequence (over-done in this version). The tagline — The Con Is On — has been copied from Franz Oz’s Bowfinger, an Eddie Murphy-Steve Martin film, with a similar theme.
With everything borrowed and in place, you watch actors here ham it up all the way (everyone’s on a hyper-drive). The leading lady (Amrita Rao; coy) imagines herself in a Vogue cover-shoot. The producer confuses his own generosity with the number of humongous sets and holiday destinations he can send his team out to shoot songs. The only ones suffering are we. Really, I don’t know a worse shortcut to excess.