Rip-offs are draining Priyan
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Rip-offs are draining Priyan

The director is probably overstretching himself, writes Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2006 18:16 IST

Priyadarshan is rapidly moving towards a stage where he will probably find himself on test at the box office on a weekly basis, but Kerala’s most successful filmmaker on the pan-Indian stage isn’t exactly malamaal when it comes to original ideas.

His latest laugh riot, Malamaal Weekly, rides on the back of a talented ensemble cast – Om Puri, Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav and Riteish Deshmukh – and, therefore, appears far better than it actually is. But in terms of plot, the film has little that could be described as startlingly new.

The Malamaal Weekly plot is a straight lift from the 1998 Irish comedy, Waking Ned Devine, about a small village that conspires to keep a ‘dead’ national lottery winner alive so that the millions the man has won do not go waste. The original film hinged on principally situational humour. Malamaal Weekly, in true Priyadarshan style, is pure slapstick.

Priyadarshan had hitherto been content to remake his Malayalam hits. Since last year, when two of his films – the comic Garam Masala and the melodramatic Kyon Ki – hit the screens on the same Friday, he has turned his attention to foreign flicks.

Priyadarshan had hitherto been content to remake his Malayalam hits. Since last year he has turned his attention to foreign flicks.

And that is rather sad. In the past few years, Priyadarshan has after all crafted some truly entertaining rip-roaring comedies that have become part of Bollywood folklore. With the exception of the rather tepid

Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar,

his films have tended to work at the box office, making him a director that the market and the masses alike love.

Priyadarshan’s reputation rests primarily on three outstanding laugh riots – Hera Pheri, Hungama and Hulchul. Does he really need to go scouring around for plot ideas? As a director of slapstick comedies, he has no match in Bollywood with the exception of David Dhawan. That last thing he should do is let his brand equity be frittered on borrowed, largely unappetising ideas.

Priyadarshan’s made his Hindi-language debut in the early 1990s with a gentle romantic comedy, Muskurahat. Critics and discerning sections of the audience loved the film, but it was a commercial disaster. That was probably the turning point of Priyadarshan’s Bollywood career.

First Published: Mar 25, 2006 19:00 IST