Not happy, not fancy

Oafish, dim-witted Punjabi men are not rare in Hindi films. Certain empty states of being can muster the chuckle at them. But when three such brothers, Chixie Gill, Happy Gill and Fancy Gill, are on a romp that combines the lewdest brand of Hollywood slapstick and the worst kind of Punjabi balderdash (including repeated fart jokes), they become unbearable. Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s Teen Thay Bhai, produced by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, is Gill brothers gone annoyingly berserk.

There’s some marijuana-induced comic turns in the film, reminiscent of stoner films such as Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. In one of the scenes, German-speaking hippie women tripping on a snow-capped valley eagerly feed the Gill brothers parathas stuffed with marijuana. The stoned frolic isn’t quite funny; it’s contrived dopey humour. Then there are some attempts at showing gory torture, the best of which can be seen in the films of Japanese masters of the genre—gashing a person with a fork, electric shocks— which stand out as sore mismatches to the story.

Three’s a crowd: (from left) Shreyas Talpade, Deepak Dobriyal and Om Puri in Teen Thay Bhai.

Happy, a petty businessman, has a violently aggressive wife and three overweight daughters for whom he can’t find a match. The girls are shown to be eating all the time. He is a desperate, bitter man. Chixie is a failed dentist who just can’t get a simple tooth extraction right because he has his own philosophical explanation for tooth pain. He has a doomed romance with a childhood sweetheart. Fancy, a dog lover (his pet Shanky is a miraculous creature flitting in and out of death in the course of the film) and aspiring Hollywood actor, is fascinated by English words and women. He knows what a silicon is. A lawyer brings the three together to announce that their grandfather, a tyrant when alive, has left a mansion for them in a beautiful hamlet of Himachal Pradesh. But they inherit the property only if they follow some of his last wishes for three years.

In the third year, the three brothers arrive at the rundown bungalow on a night when there is a snowstorm. The first half of the film is set entirely in one room of this house, with a few cutaways to the past. This is classic material for stage. Except intercuts between the interiors and the white valley, there’s little cinematic in the first half which, in itself, is not a negative as long as performances keep you engaged. But the acting is animated and it’s obvious that the actors are trying too hard to be funny. The writing is not smart enough to sustain a room full of three bawdy brothers who are at each other’s throats.

Dobriyal and Talpade are competent comics and in some scenes they are genuinely funny. But overall they can’t evoke the sympathy or the laughter that the characters perhaps are intended to. Puri is wasted and it appears that the only brief he got from his director is to be convincingly dirty and foul-mouthed.

Ultimately, Teen Thay Bhai proves that Punjabified, dopey black humour can be a complete disaster.

Teen Thay Bhai released in theatres on Friday.

*******

Reptilian romp

Three’s a crowd: (from left) Shreyas Talpade, Deepak Dobriyal and Om Puri in Teen Thay Bhai.

‘Rango’ released in theatres on Friday.

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