Film: Khajoor Pe Atke
Cast: Manoj Pahwa, Seema Pahwa, Vinay Pathak, Dolly Ahluwalia, Alka Amin, Vicky Arora, Prathamesh Parab, Sanah Kapoor, Suneeta Sengupta, Basu Soni, Daljit Singh Gujral, Kishore Chougule, Nabeel Ahmed, Harsh Chhaya, Boman Irani
Director: Harsh Chhaya
Rating: * *
TV and Theatre actor Harsh Chhaya’s directorial debut, obviously inspired by Rajesh Mapuskar’s award-winning Marathi film ‘Ventilator,’ is a frigid, ignoble exercise at dark comedy. The tone is generally inconsistent, as the intention to make an out-and-out comedy from a subjective perch of human callousness doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Devender is in serious condition in the ICU of a Hospital in Mumbai. His wife Kadambari (Alka Amin) and son Alok (Vicky Arora) are understandably distraught and inform the next of kin – his siblings Jeetender (Manoj Pahwa), Ravinder (Vinay Pathak), Lalli Di (Dolly Ahluwalia) and their families who live in different parts of the country. In their eagerness to seem concerned and to keep a glad eye out for the ancestral property, they gradually land at the hospital en masse. What transpires thereafter, should have been grist for a few laughs, but that was not to be. Even the wildly exaggerated pursuits of the niece Nayantara aka Rosie (Sanah Kapoor) and nephews fail to bring on the funnies.
As the extended family tries to find ways to keep themselves occupied (in selfish personal pursuits), Devender’s condition deteriorates and the expenses at the hospital mount. Right up to the climax we are not very sure what the issue is here. The siblings and their spouses are depicted as obviously interested in how or whether the property will be shared but in the end it all fizzles out without any clear-cut resolution.
While Rajesh Mapuskar’s ‘Ventilator’ went about it’s expose of human behaviour with heart and humour, this one merely trudges along tediously without much depth, affection or wit. Frankly, it’s not very clear what the writer/director wanted to postulate from this sort of undefined plotting.
The talented cast including Manoj and Seema Pahwa, Vinay Pathak, Dolly Ahluwalia, Alka Amin, Suneeta Sengupta appear to be labouring hard, rather fruitlessly. The youngsters though – Vicky Arora, Prathmesh Parab and Sanah Kapoor are a little more inspired than the older lot. A few stray humorous moments fail to raise the pitch either. The narrative neither plays out like a satire or a dark comedy. It feels more like a sitcom awaiting canned laughter cues.