Hasmukh review: Vir Das kills a promising idea with a mediocre show

Apr 18, 2020 04:00 PM IST

Hasmukh review: Netflix delivers yet another dud with Vir Das’ dark comedy which is neither sinister nor funny.

Director: Nikhil Gonsalves
Cast: Vir Das, Ranvir Shorey, Ravi Kishen

Hasmukh review: Vir Das plays a murderous comedian in the new Netflix Original.
Hasmukh review: Vir Das plays a murderous comedian in the new Netflix Original.

It’s such a shame when a good idea strikes the wrong people. Vir Das had an epiphany for the ages—a stand-up comedian who needs to charge his soul with murder, every time he steps up to the stage. It’s the perfect Killing Joke; or it could have been in the hands of a better writers. What we have now is a joke of a series, which fails to deliver on either the dark or the comedic aspects of the designated genre.

From the beginning itself, things just don’t seem right with Hasmukh (Vir). In the very first scene, the timid and anxious Hansmukh slits his comedian guru’s (Manoj Pahwa) throat when he refuses to fulfil his promise of giving him a break on the stage. This pivotal moment comes too early in the narrative, not giving the audience any time to witness why or how Hasmukh reached his breaking point. It may be his first murder, but he pulls it off with more confidence than any that follow. He shoots right to the stage after splitting open the dead man’s head and delivers a starry performance to a wedding party in Saharanpur.

Watch the trailer for Hasmukh:


Of course, there is absolutely nothing starry about that performance. The screenwriters made a note in the script—*and the crowd goes wild*—and the junior actors laughed and applauded as they were told. But not a single joke from Hasmukh’s murder-induced performance or any that succeeds it through the entirety of the show, is funny in the slightest. The pact with Satan would have seemed more believable if the patni-peedit jokes were not this lame.

But Hasmukh has made up his mind, killing a few bad people is worth a career in comedy. He sets targets on his abusive chachaji, a party leader’s corrupt PA, a greedy lawyer, a girlfriend-beater, a rapist superstar and multiple others. While a couple of these escape his clutches, most end up choked to death with his leather belt.

For Hasmukh, with each subsequent murder, it becomes progressively a mechanical job but the jokes never improve. The police get on his tail, as he becomes more human with each murder. He tells himself and us that he is not the good guy and that he sees the men he has murdered in his nightmares. However, he never hesitates the next time he sets eyes on his target. His guilt and imposter syndrome manifests itself in the rotting, walking corpse of Manoj Pahwa who sh*t-talks at him before every show. Hasmukh, however, is easily able to ward him off with a wave of his hand.

Hasmukh is joined in his criminal-comedian lifestyle by his manager Jimmy (Ranvir Shorey). Together, they find targets, sign contracts with television studios, throw corpses in incinerators, go on double dates with their girlfriends and meet with mafia bosses. Ranvir and Vir’s chemistry as murderous bros may be the only redeeming factor of the otherwise hopeless series. They quickly become partners in a dark life and have genuine care and affection for each other. Ranvir is also perhaps the only one making a positive contribution in the acting department in this show. His greedy eyes lighten up on seeing a fat paycheck and well up when he is accused of being disloyal. He is also the jumpy, singing, dancing idiot who rarely gets annoying.

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But the show makes sure you are reminded often of the substandard mess you are watching. There are multiple shots of cleavages for the perusal of a sleazy television head (Ravi Kishen) that seem more apt for those Tusshar Kapoor movies from the last decade than a Netflix Original. There are also teenage boys pulling on women’s bra straps and landing in a MeToo case of their own. People break into impromptu, choreographed dance parties and every other character has a ‘takia kalaam’ like a SAB TV comedy.

Even with this huge, stinking pile of issues, the biggest crime committed by Hasmukh is that it is hopelessly unfunny. Vir Das was expected to do just one thing correctly and it was giving the series a big helping of humour and wit. But all the jokes do is kill your patience.

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    Soumya Srivastava is Entertainment Editor at Hindustan Times. She writes about movies and TV because what else is there to life anyway.

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