Khajoor Pe Atke Review

There's nothing subtle about this film. There's no dark comedy here. There's only loud acting, ghastly music and comic sounds that deafen you and blind you to the really, really funny bits in the film.


The Marathi film Ventilator too had the same story. An older person is in ICU, about to die, and relatives show up from all parts rural and semi-urban places, to claim love and hope to inherit the mango trees in the dying person's care. In Khajoor Pe Atke, it is a brother who is in the Intensive Care Unit, and his two brothers and their oddball families, their sister and her son show up to offer support to the soon-to-be-widow and her son.


The poster should tell you how exaggerated this film is going to be. Everyone has googly eyes, everyone speaks as if the rest of the world is deaf, everyone has strange quirks, everyone overdoes the small town person wide-eyed in big city thing. If that is not enough, everyone in the big city is 'bad', out to cheat the out of towners. Or just horrified at these 'item' people.


Nikhil Pahwa is Jeetender Sharma, married to Sushila (Seema Bhargawa). They have two kids a son and a daughter Nayantara (she's stuck by the Bollywood bug and wants to be heroine).


Vinay Pathak is Ravinder Sharma, married to Anuradha (Suneeta Sengupta), and they have a kid. Dolly Ahluwalia is Lalita Didi who has a grown up son. So these nine people show up at the hospital where their Debu Bhaiyya is in ICU and his wife Kadambari (Alka Amin) and son Amol host them in the waiting area.


The brothers and their wives are hoping that after the brother dies, they will finally get a share in the ancestral apartment the dying brother has been living in. They have to bribe the hospital staff to enter into the ICU at will. Ganpat the hospital chap is played by Kishore Chougule who has a finger in all the pies (he can arrange not just the funeral, but the bhajan singers as well as fake guests at the wake, he knows the local cops and can rescue the lads after getting them into trouble). Nayantara has a whatsapp love affair with Rokky Dilwala (a delightful creepy lad played by Prathamesh Parab) because he has promised her a role in a movie. The boys are there to stare at girls and want to experience 'dance bar' delights. Kadambari eats non stop. The dying man's son has a girlfriend who cannot stop saying, 'I understand you'. The worst of these 'eccentric' offenders is played by Dolly Ahluwalia who brings a babaji into the ICU to smear (and feed) ash on the dying brother.


The joy of watching a dark comedy is about doing really horrible things (like trying to arrange a wedding match for their daughter) in a straightforward way, as though they were a part of everyday ordinary life. Kadambari eating in every scene is so brilliantly done, you wish the rest of the scenes weren't so exaggerated. But Vinay Pathak cannot resist his parodying of Amitabh Bachchan's Deewar dialog...


Nayantara's audition is funny, but did it need so much accompanying cartoonish music? The rented funeral arrangements are funny because the man isn't dead yet, but you wish you did not hear the comic phone ringtone.


You end up not caring about the loud portrayal, the item number, what happens to the dying brother, the eccentricities, the fact that this ensemble cast could have been so much funnier had they not been so loud...

A copy of the Marathi film Ventilator, Khajoor Pe Atke exaggerates in every possible way bringing down what could have been a wonderful situational dark comedy to something unsavory. A brother is about to die, and the family gathers around to 'be there'. Each person has his or her own motives for being there. Alas, instead of letting the audience decide when to chuckle and when to fall off the chair laughing, the loud comic sounds and the constant overacting puts you off. (1) - Manisha Lakhe

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