The film is set in ‘60s Bollywood, where the narrator says, “film stars were as larger-than-life as the films themselves.”
The setting is an after-awards party where the characters perform a song, with every frame soaked in confetti. Borrowing from Baz Luhrmann’s lavish visuals in The Great Gatsby, this song has it all – bursts of colour, fireworks, indoor pools, winding staircases and extravagance unlimited.
In the middle of it all is Himesh Rehammiya doing a Leonardo DiCaprio, his puny frame covered in sharp suits and a moustache. He is playing a superstar called Ravi Kumar, and putting it kindly, he doesn’t look the part. Neither can he carry off a role that needed a lot of screen-presence and panache.
That’s when the film gets unintentionally hilarious. Also when Yo Yo Honey Singh, styled with a curl over his forehead, attempts acting a layered part. One never thought this day would come, but honestly how you wish he’d stick to making his music.
In the party, a well-known actress, having just won an award, is found dead. The cops are certain it’s a murder and the film then proceeds to zero in on the killer. (The story claims to be based on true incidents.)
The actress who died was Zara— talented, but known for sleeping her way to the top. Her arch rival is Chandni who we are told has succeeded on the basis of her talent. One has critical acclaim, the other has people surrounding her for autographs, and their rivalry is fierce.
There are other peripheral characters – two rival producers whose films will clash on the same date, a wily music director who sells the same song to multiple people, and his unsuspecting wife.
Ravi Kumar, a former cop, is called a “khiskela insaan” who explains killing off a politician with the line— “gussa aa gaya tha” (I just got angry). He has other fancy-shmanzy dialogue like, “ main jo bolta hoon, wahi script ban jaati hai.” And hilarious ones like the scene where he is asked to get his make-up done for a shot and he says, “Uper wale ne make-up kar ke bheja hai.”
There are several references to real life people. There’s a film called 'Ujwal Nirmal Sheetal' which seems to be a take-off on 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram', and introduces “India’s first sex-symbol” (Zeenat Aman). Songs like 'Hai apna dil to aawara' make an appearance. Ravi Kumar reminds you of heroes of that era, particularly Rajesh Khanna and Raj Kumar.
Several rumoured incidents like a cat-fight in the middle of a party, and fans boycotting a film because their beloved hero get abused by the supporting role are also included.
Sadly, that’s where the film concentrates, forgetting about the murder completely. You have lovely shots of behind-the-scenes shooting activity—someone writing on the clapboard, production people setting up the scene etc.— till you remember that it’s the second half and the film hasn’t even delved into the mystery.
The whodunit, when resolved is pretty lame and predictable in parts. It doesn’t shock or thrill you.
Director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan tells the story in an old-school manner, save the glitzy visuals to prop it up. You have the demarcation between the heroines much like in films of those times – the simple one dressed in white, and the vamp dressed mostly in black.
The film is also sexist in the way it treats Zara’s character. Apart from the gruesome death, you have people say the nastiest things to her, especially with regards to her nonchalance about the casting couch.
The actresses Sonali Raut and Zoya Afroz, both introduced with the film, make decent debuts . The film falters in its casting of the central hero Himesh Reshammiya, who has earlier tried the acting gig earlier with several films including Karzzzz and Damadamm!
The only smart thing the film does is to begin and end the film with Irrfan Khan (he appears as the narrator).
You can watch the film for the visual chutzpah, a sprinkling of interesting behind-the-scenes moments, and the intermittent unintentional laugh. But honestly, enduring the rest of the film for that, is a stretch.
Rating: Two stars