Director: Rajat Kapoor
Cast: Ranvir Shorey, Neha Dhupia
Get this. If anyone asks for sliced bread, a Punjabi aunty sees blood red. In fact, aunty breaks into a kranti if she can’t rustle up some parathas and phulkas right away. Quite.
Now that’s just one of the delicious moments in Rajat Kapoor’s Mithiya, a zany zip-around of the Mumbai showbiz world and its nutty nexus with the gangsta world. Jump cut, then, to an encounter between an air-gulping movie producer and a geeky ganglord who longs to do some tinsel herogiri. Chuckles guaranteed.
Now, you may have seen a similar gag in Welcome but here it’s executed with the poker-faced assurance of a director who knows his cinema -- be it the flair for deadpan Buster Keaton humour or a plot that doffs its hat off to Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha and John Woo’s Face/Off (look-alikes switch roles) or that slow-mo fall from a height from Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. Clever, indeed.
Gratifyingly Kapoor, whose work has ranged from the eminently likeable Raghu Romeo to the self-consciously kinky Mixed Doubles, is not a slavish imitator. Avoiding plagiarism, he sets up a halogen-lit world where bullets can fly on the Marine Drive oceanfront. Cars speed by; the law force is conspicuous by its absence. Hell!
As it happens, a wanna-happen movie actor (Shorey) is an eyewitness to a mass murder. Dumbstruck, the struggler merely hangs on to his ‘quarter’ whisky and a glass that came for free. Run, man, run.
Not possible. Since your whisky man is a carbon copy of a glum mafia lord (Shorey2), he’s kidnapped. And he’s planted as Glum Bhai. Like it or not, our struggler has to deliver the performance of his life.. or kick the bucket.
Next: A flop starlet (Dhupia) is on his side, but no one else is. The adversaries vary from a shady big boss (Naseeruddin Shah, looking more tired than a railway coolie) to gun-toting bozos going bang-bang-bang as if they’d just developed an appetite for non-veg-cutlets-‘n’-ketchup a la Tarantino. Yup.
Throughout, the wickedly funny screenplay by Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla, incorporates an emotional undertow. The fake don’s warmth with two kids is marvellously depicted. So are asides, like a sudden burst into Shakespearean stanzas at a dining table before a family otherwise accustomed to hearing grunts and gaalis. De taalis.
Aha, but here comes the rub. The last half an hour or so becomes much too downbeat and convoluted for comfort. Surely, a more tongue-in-chic ending was in order. Although a compact 100-minute in length, the finale drrrr..a..g..s.
Never mind. The larger picture is imaginative and intelligent. Plus, despite a tightfisted budget Rafey Mahmood cinematography is visually wowee.
Of the cast, Vinay Pathak is spot-on, overriding an underwritten part. Iravati Harshe, with her gentle nuances, is credible as a mafia housemaker. Neha Dhupia is bankably confident.
Above all, Ranvir Shorey is outstanding, perfectly creating the two imperfect personalities. Cheers! Go ahead, grab Mithiya to make your matinee.