Awara Paagal Deewana Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film
Jun 20, 2002 By Subhash K. Jha

What can we expect from a film that has three lunatic insinuations in its title? A madcap, zany, kooky laugh-a-minute?

That's exactly what director Vikram Bhatt's new film Awaara Paagal Deewana is all about.

The young filmmaker, whose gooseflesh-raising horror thriller, Raaz, set the box office tinkling earlier this year, comes up with a clever and largely enjoyable adaptation of Jonathan Lyne's The Whole Nine Yards.

The original wasn't anything to write home about. But this Indian adaptation with enough eccentric twists and turns scores for its crisp writing, above-average production values, unique action sequences and masterful performances.

Producer Feroz Nadiadwala, who had earlier crafted another sparkling comedy Hera Pheri, has spared no expenses to marry the giggles to glamour.

The plot is a mind-boggler. Like David Dhawan's comedy last month Hum Kisise Kam Nahin, Awaara Paagal Deewana looks at the underworld with chortles.

Akshay Kumar is the pokerfaced fun-loving gangster, Guru, whose evil brother-in-law, Vikrant (Rahul Dev), has a penchant for masked mayhem.

In the preamble, Om Puri (surprisingly out of sorts as a droll mobster) kicks the bucket, leaving his evil empire to his seething son Vikrant and son-in-law Guru. The conflict between the two antagonists provides the film with the pretext to unleash a feast of furious fists.

The Hong Kong-styled action with Akshay Kumar flying, hurling and somersaulting provides the comedy with the right amount of counter-action. Thankfully, Bhatt avoids the doses of melodrama that creep into Indian comedies.

Set in a fetching New York suburb, wife-abused dentist Anmol (Aftab Shivdasani) suddenly finds more excitement in his life than he had bargained for when the mobster Guru moves in next door.

Borrowing actor Mathew Perry's fluster from The Whole Nine..., Bhatt builds a whole pyramid of characters -- like the bullied dentist, his gangster-fixated nurse (Arati Chabria), his tormenting wife (Amrita Arora) and mother-in-law (Supriya Pilgaonkar).

To add the character of the dentist's father-in-law in the over-heated brew is a masterstroke missing from the Hollywood original. In this role, Paresh Rawal infuses a determined entertainment value in the most outrageous of lines.

But in the crowd some of the main players like Sunil Shetty and Aftab Shivdasani seem to have got underdeveloped roles. Sunil, whose comic efforts were ably tapped recently in Yeh Tera Ghar, Yeh Mera Ghar, plays the muscled goon with relish. But his role doesn't go anywhere.

Apart from Paresh Rawal, only Akshay Kumar emerges from the fog and fume with a clearly structured role as the sullen mobster. The film is a showcase for his abilities as a fighter, romanticist and farceur.

But the film's comic slant topples over the edge in the second-half when ranting and raving substitutes for genuine comedy. The long-drawn climax in a desert with fancy wheels and squeals filling the screen gets a bit on the nerves.

Pravin Bhatt's cinematography is conventionally appealing. Anu Malik's music does nothing to support the film's diverting ambitions. One song Jisse hasna rona hai featuring all the three lead pairs has been clumsily shot.

The narration takes off to places like Muscat and a bull-arena in Spain. One song shot dreamily on Aftab and Amrita in NYC, catches a still-intact World Trade Centre looming indulgently in the background.

It reminds us of why we need to laugh more often in cinema and how infrequently Hindi films provide us with the opportunity do so.

Subhash K. Jha