Review: Ek Chalis Ki Last Local

Updated on May 18, 2007 08:08 PM IST
Shuttling between hyper-fantasy and stylised reality, this all-in-a-night’s-work flick does become much too self-indulgent at times, writes Khalid Mohamed.
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None | ByKhalid Mohamed, Mumbai

Ek Chalis ki Last Local
Cast: Abhay Deol, Neha Dhupia
Director: Sanjay Khanduri
Rating: ***

Thin as pin, a tea boy suddenly displays his weaker-than-watery-chai muscles. A loony woman cackles away like a witch from Macbeth, excited at the very thought of stealing a sack of money. And a couple of bozos break into imitations of Rajnikant and Nana Patekar. Giggle.

Those are some of the madcap moments from first-time director Sanjay Khanduri’s Ek Chalis ki Last Local. It has its moments of crow black humour, bizarre tangles in the plot and a caboodle of El Freakos who appear to have escaped from a Quentin Tarantino blood-spiller. So, does the outcome work? Sure it does, in fits and starts – and that’s saying plenty.

So, if you’re the sort who supports the irreverent, the kinky and the weird, then cut to a call centre nerd (Abhay Deol) who misses the 1.40 last local train home. Oh dear.

Cut to a woman (Neha Dhupia) who’s more lit up than a thousand chandeliers. She’s stranded too. Next: the two land up at a beer bar where anything is possible – much like the after-midnight exploits in Martin Scorsese’s rib-tickling After Hours. Uh oh.

Okay, so now Nerd and Chandelier have to deal with nasties unlimited. Count among them a midget don, a meanie with a ping pong eye, an eve teaser smoking smelly ciggies and cops whose crooked teeth and deeds are a dentist’s nightmare. Chortle.

And hang on, don’t you forget a flirtatious eunuch bai and a violently gay mafia monarch. Indeed, whackos here are as much in season as alphonso baskets.

The first half hour is tortoise slow, repetitious and the finale’s a bit of a cop-out. Shuttling between hyper-fantasy and stylised reality (reminiscent of earlier lulu capers like Raghu Romeo and Waisa Bhi Hota Hai), frequently this all-in-a-night’s-work flick does become much too self-indulgent for comfort.

It’s way too lengthy. Worse, the seduction scene of the nerd in a mafia lord’s garish chamber is absolutely vulgar.

Yet, overall the screenplay grabs your attention with its sheer saucy, don’t-care-a-dam outlook..and even if the situations become absolutely weird, it’s okay.

On the upside, director Khanduri displays a striking blow-hot-cool-attitude, raises guffaws and titters, abetted constantly by the indigo-night cinematography wonderfully lensed by C Vijaysri, chuckle-inducing dialogue by Raghuvir Shekhavat, sharp editing chops by Dharmendra Sharma (a top angle umbrella shot is a hoot) and inventive production design by Sameer Chanda.

Of the cast, both Abhay Deol and Neha Dhupia are likeable and consistently in the skin of their parts. And there are the scene stealers: Amit Mistri as a live-life-king-size card sharpie is downright hilarious. Sunita Rajwar as the hysterical Kill Bill shrieker is excellent. And Ashok Samarth as the encounter cop is fabulous.

Where were these guys hiding their extraordinary talent? Why haven’t they been seen in the big movies? Indeed, just for the zany Mistri-Samarth-Rajwar, and the mad mirthful spirit, it’s worth riding the Last Local.

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