The best form of flattery is imitation. And thanks to David Dhawan's doggedattempts to beat the box-office with his inimitable form of comedy,Bollywood has come to realise that fun is not necessarily a two-scenesequence in a masala movie, a fact that regional cinema had acknowledged along time ago. This week, the acclaimed southern film director, Priyadarsan,remakes an earlier oeuvre in Hindi as Hera Pheri.
Hera Pheri, starring Sunil Shetty, Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal-yes,the heroine, Tabu, is playing a supporting role-in the main roles, isunabashedly funny, in both situations and dialogues. And because it sticksto the comic framework it casts for itself, it gets away with it and isside-splittingly funny.
Shyam and Raju (Shetty and Kumar), two unemployed youths, lodge together inamicable animosity in a crumbling, old house with Rawal, a big-hearted,penurious old man, whose one dream is to free his beloved house from thepile of mortgages his father had dumped on it. Shyam and Raju and theirlandlord share a common dream -- of making a pile of money. But the two boysare unable to land even an ordinary 9-5 job.
That's when Fate decides to lend a hand. In a mix-up of telephone numbers,the trio receive, by mistake, a call from a gangster, who has kidnapped thegrand-daughter of a famous industrialist and wants a ransom of Rs 10 lakhfor her. They decide to call up the industrialist, hike the ransom amount toRs 20 lakh, and keep the extra money for themselves. The plan proceeds asproposed, till the police catch on to what is happening. In a hilairiousdenouement, things get sorted out, and the three find themselves richer byRs 40 lakh, given them by the doting grandfather, in his relief at gettinghis grand-daughter back safe.
Tabu, as Anuradha, the girl who gets the job Shyam coveted, using underhandmeans, and Om Puri, in a short cameo as a rumbustious, if slightlydim-witted, Sardar who is chasing Shyam for the money the latter owes him,are a delight to watch. As always.
But the true stars are deservedly Akshay and Sunil, the two macho stars,hitherto given to meaningless Rambo chops and mind-boggling stunts, who makethis film with their quick comic repartee. Their timing is perfect, andthere is a certain chemistry between them that adds enormously to the film'sappeal. Rawal is adequate, even good in parts, but boring in others.
The one let-down in Hera Pheri is the choreography. Despite the longline of eminent names, two decidedly foot-tapping numbers in Jab bhi koihaseena and Tun tunak tun, and a good dancer like Akshay Kumar,the two songs are tedious, and quite unnecessary in a movie that needed nosongs at all to bolster it.
Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.