Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami review: Charming and heartfelt!

Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami review: Charming and heartfelt!

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 10 October 2014

Movie Title

Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami review: Charming and heartfelt!


Ravindra Gautam

Star Cast

Anupam Kher, Neha Dhupia, Divyendu Sharma

As you may know, the film's title refers to the 21-gun salute reserved for important occasions and for military and state funerals.

Our humble BMC worker Purushotam Joshi (Anupam Kher) who prides himself on his honesty has been yearning for "samman" (respect) all his life.

Through a beautiful montage we see how the school trophy was not given to him because of a distraction, in the army his dedication was overshadowed by bullies, and now having worked decades (without a single leave) in the BMC's Pest Control Department, he is finally looking forward to his retirement day.

Simple things like being gifted a clock, and everyone praising his steadfast honesty is enough, as it all translates to respect. He even brings a photographer along to mark his last working day. But things go awry - he is humiliated by a senior and the shock is too much for him to bear.

Despite him being in a critical medical state, all his two sons can think of is how to get his thumbprint on the house transfer papers. But the old man is one-up on them. He spells out an impossible last wish - the Ekkees Toppon Ki Salaami. And now... the two sons are now flummoxed...

Meanwhile a sizzling affair between a Chief Minister (Rajesh Sharma) and an actress Jaya Prabha (Neha Dhupia) is making headlines due to his transferring government land to her.

The film satirizes everything from news channels, reporters, actresses, and politicians. Note the scene where a channel, to establish an affair between a politician and an actress, superimposes their faces on an old Bollywood number. The scene where the politician abuses someone, but his staff translates it into a sugar-coated press release is priceless. Other hilarious moments include Jaya Prabha's antics, her face-off with the equally volatile CM's mom, and the curious case of a snoring corpse.

In the middle of all this, almost as if someone else popped in to direct those portions, comes in abrupt crudity. Like Neha's actress character saying suggestively, Aap nahin lenge...? Interview? to a news reporter. Or when the same character is called "baazaaru aurat" by another character (who is equally, if not more, morally ambiguous). Then there another cringe-worthy sexist dialogue about dowry, which is completely unacceptable.

The film takes adequate cinematic license and presents a world where a politician's passing away is 24x7 news. And the director is clearly judgmental in favour of the 'I am poor-but-honest' thought process. Whoever said a person be honest and rich? This simplistic tone is omnipresent in the film.

The performances are superb. This is Anupam Kher's most interesting role in recent times and he performs masterfully. Of course one can argue his recurring "need" for validation from the world, but that's a philosophical debate for another time. Neha Dhupia adds in truckloads of fun with her campy rendering of the publicity-hungry diva, including the song spoofing cult Bollywood numbers.

Divyendu Sharma and Manu Rishi as the sons are superb. Aditi Sharma is impressive as the partner-in-crime. The romance between Divyendu and Aditi's characters is beautifully shown, even as the couple does routine things like eating bhel puri by the street, or asking a stranger to click a photo. The songs (Ram Sampath's music set to Sandeep Nath's words) are lovely. The cinematography captures Mumbai's sights and sounds expertly, and the production design brings alive the atmospherics of a chawl from a peeling Swami Samartha photo on the wall, to a trunk full of Purushotam's belongings including a plastic bag with medicines.

Indeed, director Ravindra Gautam breathes life into these characters and their world. Which is why, as the finale unfolds, you cannot help being moved. Despite its flaws, the film is highly recommended for characters that stay with you long after the film has ended, actors who bring them alive with such sincerity, a unique story, and some heartfelt humour!

Rating: 3.5 stars

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