Kanji Mehta (Paresh Rawal) is an atheist, who runs an antique shop. For him, God and religion are nothing more than a business proposition (and a recession-free business, in fact).
His cynicism is aptly displayed in a scene where he announces that God is accepting food for a day, and believers queue up offering idols butter, milk and even low-cholesterol cheese. It’s a funny scene, which spoofs the Ganesha drinking milk frenzy that happened about a decade ago.
His wife (Lubna Salim), on the other hand, is a complete devout and disapproves of his stance against God. Unfortunately, a mild earthquake leaves his shop in shambles. With the insurance company dismissing his application, calling it an 'Act of God', Kanji now decides to take an extreme step. He decides to take God to court.
This step leads to a revolution of sorts. There are equally formidable arguments for and against his case. And the viewer witnesses one of the most interesting and hat ke courtroom dramas ever.
To add tadka to the proceedings, Lord Krishna (Akshay Kumar) makes an entry in the film and moves in as Kanji's neighbour. So you have the charming Krishna in a suit riding a hip bike and playing the flute in the mornings. True to his name, he also polishes off all the butter in Kanji's fridge.
The charming interactions between Kanji and Krishna are the highlight of the film.
Based on the successful Gujarati play Kanji Viruddh Kanji, also adapted in Hindi as Krishan vs Kanhaiya, the film has some genuine laughs, but the message it propagates is serious.
On the opposite side are priests of all religions who vehemently oppose the step Kanji has taken. As the head priest (Mithun Chakraborty), who has been painted as a bit of a caricature, admits, "Most believers are not God-loving people. They are God-fearing people." Food for thought, this. For it is exactly this attitude that the film speaks up against.
In a pivotal scene, Kanji recounts the amount of milk wasted on an idol, while beggars outside the temple go hungry. To be fair, several believers never consider this point, so taken in are they by age-old rituals. The film does not propagate atheism, but encourages a more radical and intelligent approach to being a Believer.
Directed by Umesh Shukla, the film is below par in terms of production values, has an outdated look, and several characters are over-the-top caricatures. But you will be keen to sidestep these flaws, as the film’s content is so exciting and subversive (such that the film has been banned in the UAE).
The performances are superb. Paresh Rawal, who also enacts the character in the play, is a treat to watch. After long, the actor gets a role that exploits his potential to the fullest.
Akshay Kumar makes for a fun, charismatic Krishna as he smiles beatifically and appears confused seeing his photograph on modern T-shirts.
Mithun Chakraborty gamely takes on the role of the effeminate head priest who's more of a ruthless businessman.
Recently, a quote doing the rounds on Twitter said, 'Religion is popular because it makes you feel good about being stupid.' Kanji Bhai would agree!
Rating: 3 stars