|Mere Baap Pehle Aap|
|Akshaye Khanna, Genelia D'Souza, Om Puri, Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav|
In a role reversal of sorts, Gaurav disapproves of Rane’s friend Mathur (Om Puri) who he calls “buri sangat” for chasing women, young and old, in the hope of marriage. In a scene meant to be endearing, but ends up a drag, Gaurav gives a stern dressing down to a morose Rane, who’s sitting with his head lowered like a naughty child caught. No wonder Gaurav calls him beta-baapu, as he even reminds him to fasten the seatbelt in the car.
Out of nowhere, Gaurav is inundated with calls from a girl called Rose who claims she’s his old classmate and lover and even has had a child off him. The girl turns out to be Sakshi (Genelia D’Souza) who’s visiting India from America, and who wanted to see Gaurav squirm to settle an old score. Soon, they begin as friends and get closer. At the wedding of Sakshi’s best friend, Rane meets a lady Anuradha Joshi (Shobhana), a music teacher, and is dumbfounded. She turns out to be Sakshi’s guardian in India and his long-lost love whom he still pines for. But with Gaurav and Sakshi’s marriage on the cards, how does he go ahead with his own budding love?
The film’s premise admittedly has scope for lots of laughs and some tuggy heart moments, but in the film you hardly see either. Going by the humour, the film fails miserably, given that this was to be a laugh riot. Here’s what you have: a stern over-the-top ACP Bhawani (Archana Puran Singh) coincidentally always spotting Rane and Mathur around girls in a college and arresting them for indecent behaviour with Gaurav bailing them out. Funnily, the reactions of the collegians on seeing older people on the campus (not for misbehaving, just by virtue of being old) are scarier than that of the police.
Another attempt at humour is when Gaurav sends his assistant with an expletives-filled letter to his tormentor Rose (such an ungentlemanly thing to do) which reaches a housewife who immediately dials the police—and guess who turns up. Gaurav is again at the mercy of ACP Bhawani negotiating the release of his assistant. And so on.
The only entertaining moments are a few of the many daddy-sonny interactions; Rane’s hilarious overnight transformation after meeting his ladylove—kurta-pajama ditched for shirts and trousers stolen from Gaurav’s wardrobe, dyed hair and surreptitious visits on a bike around the teacher’s home like a love-struck teen. Also somewhat absorbing is how Gaurav and Shikha try to trick the shy older lovebirds into reuniting.
But, unfortunately, the question that Gaurav must finally settle—my love or my Bapu’s happiness—comes into play only during the ending reels of the film. That’s atrocious in a film that’s named after this delicious dilemma.
There’s also an added sub-plot about Rane’s second son, a calm sort, who has a dominating wife. Interestingly, the wife—who hollers quite a bit and, as we are told, does not prepare nashta—is in contemporary clothes. She’s the only one with serious reservations about Rane’s plan of getting re-married. But a resounding slap from her husband and she’s the epitome of a bharatiya nari, dressed in crisp saris and ever-smiling. Perhaps it’s Priyadarshan who deserves the slap for his chauvinistic endorsement of hitting to solve marital disputes.
The dialogue is a major let-down. There are many complaints with the dialogue writing—for one, it’s phrase laden which works once in a while, not throughout the film. Here are some examples—‘cheenti ke chachere bhai’, ‘bhains ki bachee’, etc. This kind of spoken conversation just doesn’t cut ice—after all, no one speaks like that in real life. The dialogue is also crude and sexist throughout—women are often compared to or referred to as machli, phataka, maal and what not. Then there are gems like ‘jab badhiya mil rahi hai, to budhiya kyon?’
The cast is of utmost importance here—Akshaye Khanna carries the film gamely on his shoulders and gives a first rate performance. Genelia is sprightly but has a standard two-three expressions bank in this film. Hope to see her actually perform in her forthcoming Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Paresh Rawal and Om Puri as buddies make an adorable team, but their talents are monumentally wasted. Their comic prowess is just not exploited, neither solo nor together, and that’s an unforgivable faux pas. Archana Puran Singh as the ACP is funny enough. Shobhana as Anuradha is restrained and effective. Naseeruddin Shah makes an ok cameo.
If you care to know of the technical aspect—cinematography (though strangely static) and art direction is good. The sound designing is clever, but in most scenes, the ambient sound is completely cut off. Case in point is a party scene where people are dancing to a song. As soon as the emotional bend starts, the music is completely cut off and a more sentimental background track takes its place, even as people oddly continue dancing in the background to music we can’t hear. Editing is lax—the story doesn’t have enough meat to sustain itself for a long film and should have clocked in at something like two hours, 30 minutes. Music is disappointing for a Priyadarshan film that usually has at least one chartbuster.
Coming from Priyadarshan, there are definitely reasonable expectations, especially if the film is touted as a comedy. This three-hour saga runs much like a stage-play with no editing control and a non-mobile camera; the film’s writing is uninspired and the talented actors are made to repeat themselves. Avoid.
Rating: 1 star