Hulchul Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film
Oct 27, 2004 By IANS

Years ago, the late O.P. Ralhan made a film called "Hulchal", which was about a mistaken murder conspiracy. The pace was maddening.

The new "Hulchal" certainly doesn't lose the race to pace. Its plot about mistaken perceptions of family pride and ego is narrated with roller coaster celerity.

In the opening shots, the way Amrish Puri strides in fluid motions with his sons (Jackie Shroff, Paresh Rawal, Arbaaz Khan and Akshaye Khanna) across the crusty brown rural landscape to mete out justice to the villagers immediately reminds us of his dignified feudal demeanour in Priyadarshan's quasi-classic "Viraasat".

Lamentably this cauldron-heated comedy is entirely bereft of that one quality that made "Viraasat" so memorable: dignity.

Every actor's mouth is subjected to scatological humour repeatedly. Jokes about nature's calls, unclean bums and spittle litter the narrative creating cheesy dialogues by Neeraj Vora.

But if you come to terms with the film's base instincts, "Hulchal" is fun in parts, and not just for the cute chemistry between Akshaye Khanna and Kareena Kapoor but also for the fabulous rapport that Arshad Warsi builds with the plot.

If you enjoyed Warsi's performances in "Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part 2" and "Munnabhai M.B.B.S.", you'd realise how resourcefully he makes space for himself in the thankless role of the hero's sidekick.

Not that Akshaye is lacking in resourceful comic aptitudes. Though his talent was never in doubt, in "Hulchal" he comes into his own, far more than his previous parody pilgrimage with Priyadarshan in "Hungama".

There's more of everything in "Hulchal". The jokes are broader, the humour is cruder, the melodrama is louder, and the feuding and fuming feudal canvas is so stretched out, it makes the Mahabharata look portable in comparison.

Though many portions of the plot in the second half are patently outdated with askew camera angles and thunderous background music to match, the romantic core works, thanks mainly to the Akshay-Kareena-Arshad scenes that are done with the director's trademark penchant for colouring his characters in bright shades without making them gaudy.

Kareena's comic timing is impeccable. Some of her earlier scenes and dance steps seem to be inspired by sister Karisma's comic compatibility with Govinda in "Raja Babu" and "Hero No.1". The only other important female character is Kareena's authoritarian grandma played by the versatile Laxmi. Too bad her ill-fitting white wig reduces her character to a caricature.

To the plot's undying regret, the bridled flamboyance, the vivid synergy of people and location that bleaches and belches colour and vibrancy (terrifically photographed by Jeeva) makes way for a blatant display of melodrama in the second-half.

Once Farha appears as Paresh Rawal's secret wife to counter his family's misogynist aspirations, "Hulchal" begins to resemble those old and very outdated Hindi films from the south in the 1960s, 70s and 80s where homilies weren't delivered...they were hammered into the plot and there from transmitted to the audience with not a care about aesthetic correctness.

The story of a feuding family brought together by their offspring is nothing new to Hindi remakes of south Indian films. Satish Kaushik's "Badhai Ho Badhai" and Ravi Shankar's "Kuch Tum Kaho Kuch Hum Kahein" are recent examples. Apparently in the south, zamindars with moustaches that twirl like whips are still in.

Hindi cinema has moved on. And so has Priyadarshan. From making a wacky urban comedy about two struggling migrants and their landlord in "Hera Pheri", he makes the journey back into the realm of rusticity with a rollicking cast that comes along for a bumpy joyride without qualms or queasiness.

Akshaye and Kareena with their upmarket city clickers' images move effortlessly into the rural backdrop though admittedly there is very little of Kareena in the second half and too many squabbles and fistfights among the men who beha