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A still from ‘Nautanki Saala!’
A still from ‘Nautanki Saala!’

Film Review | Nautanki Saala!

An overwrought hodge-podge of a comedyits best thing is an art deco theatre

Rohan Sippy’s Nautanki Saala! is about a good Samaritan, Ram Parmar (Ayushmann Khurrana), and a self-loathing neurotic, Mandar Lele (Kunaal Roy Kapoor). The two men meet on a Mumbai street just as the heartbroken and teary Mandar is about to hang himself from a noose tied to a tree.

Ram, the actor and director of Raavanleela, an ongoing popular play, is in a relationship with a shrieky go-getter, Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca), almost under duress, and he decides to take charge of Mandar’s life—to change him and make him understand his worth. The set-up has enough absurdity and comedic potential.

Beginning with a trip to the home of Mandar’s grandmother, Nautanki Saala!, adapted from the French film Après Vous, begins as a farce. There are some hilarious situations, and although largely overacted both by Khurrana and Roy Kapoor, the comic timing of some of the initial scenes is bang on. Ram’s attempt to enrol Mandar in his drama company in the role of Ram, while he plays Raavan, produces some knee-slapping moments.

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A still from ‘Nautanki Saala!

Khurrana and Roy Kapoor are capable and entertaining for the most part. Roy Kapoor’s whiny Mandar is overall funnier perhaps than the know-it-all, chaos-gatherer Ram whom Khurrana lends an unjustified smugness to. Salvi and Mendonca deliver insipid performances.

In production value and aesthetics, Nautanki Saala! is a hotchpotch. Some sequences smack of the mediocre and some are competent—it eventually plummets into a vapid romance.

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