Khatta Meetha (Priyadarshan, 2010)
The fact that the opening credits are in the devil's typeface - COMIC SANS MS - should have acted as my first warning.
THIS IS THE WORST FILM I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.
I do not make that statement lightly. But when I say I had to force myself to watch the second half of Khatta Meetha, I am not kidding. Nor am I remotely exaggerating when I summarise my entire experience of the film like this:
Okay, maybe that's a bit drastic.
When I wasn’t astonishingly, mindnumbingly bored (which was a good 75% of the film), I was confused. When I wasn’t confused, I was disgusted or just plain angry at what was playing out onscreen.
Basically, the mantra that was echoing in my brain the entire, painful two hours and thirty two minutes was “WTF AKKI WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOUR CAREER?”
THERE’S NO STORY
Or if there is one, I missed it entirely. Allegedly a comedy and apparently a satire, the film follows struggling road construction contractor Sachin Tichkule (Akshay Kumar) - who is big on ambition but short on the funds needed for the all important bribes that grease the wheels of bureaucracy – as he bumbles from one disaster to the next. Unfortunately for Sachin, the new municipal commissioner is his ex-girlfriend (played by Trisha) and she hates him ever since a kind of unfortunate incident in the past (I’ll come back to this). Plus there are like A MILLION OTHER MINOR CHARACTERS. Like, all of Sachin’s family, and his workers, and every random person who ever set foot in the stupid municipal building, and everyone gets about five seconds of screentime and A LINE until two hours later it turns out they were actually important and there’s a whole subplot devoted to them, so I HOPE YOU REMEMBERED THEIR NAMES AND RELATIONSHIPS SURPRISE I HATE THIS FREAKING FILM.
But actually I just made the whole movie sound about 4 billion times more exciting than it actually is. Because GUESS WHAT?
MYTH A: SHATTERED! Because there is a FEMALE in the film who was the male lead’s ex-girlfriend, combined with song promos that came out like this one:
you could be forgiven for thinking there is a romance thread in the film.
WELL FORGET THAT. Seriously. Forget it.
MYTH B: SHATTERED! All that stuff about Sachin bumbling from one disaster to the next and the ex-girlfriend nemesis and stuff, IT SOUNDS LIKE A FILM WITH A PLOT, so what the eff, Ness? And even if the film sucks, it’s AKKI, right? Akki’s hot! WE LOVE AKKI? Don’t we?
Don't worry Akki. I STILL LOVE YOU. Though I SHOULDN'T, after this travesty.
SEVENTY PERCENT OF THIS FILM CONSISTS OF MEN OTHER THAN AKSHAY KUMAR TALKING ABOUT EXTREMELY DULL, BUREAUCRATIC THINGS THAT NO-ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD BOTHER TO MAKE A MAINSTREAM FILM ABOUT.
This conversation goes on for another three hours. Or maybe it just felt that way.
TEN PERCENT is Akki screaming his dialogue at the top of his lungs regardless of whether the scene demands it or not. (Akki, I swear to god, I love you. I REALLY DO love you. But I am rapidly losing faith).
And (at least) TWENTY percent is incredibly disgusting, appalling, absolutely gratuitous, unjustifiable violence against women. Remember that “unfortunate” incident between Sachin and his ex girlfriend Gehna I mentioned? In their idyllic college days, Sachin was organizing a protest and wanted Gehna to skip an exam, which she refused to do. So he PUNCHES HER IN THE FACE.
Um...ha ha? More like
WHAT THE FUCK?
ARE YOU SERIOUS?
DID THAT ACTUALLY JUST HAPPEN?
And I thought it couldn’t get worse than that, but it does. When Sachin meets Gehna later on in her role as Municipal Commissioner he can't stand that she actually does her job which is to stop him from cheating people/skimping on materials/bribing/etc. So he SETS HER UP and frames her as being corrupt; prompting her to ATTEMPT SUICIDE. Yep. A real laugh riot.
Later in the film, a woman – a minor character who we have barely seen – is shown as being gang-raped;
and then it is suggested that she commits suicide or is murdered when she tries to escape. We find this out pretty much as an afterthought. It’s…appalling, the way it’s handled, and I can think of absolutely NOTHING that justifies this particular scenario being included in this particular film; there are plenty of alternatives that could have driven the plot forward the same way without being so…seemingly exploitative and lurid. In a film billed as a comedy/satire about corruption in the system.
IT’S NOT REMOTELY FUNNY NOR IS IT PARTICULARLY CLEVER, THOUGHT PROVOKING OR INTERESTING
The film is just a mess – not only is it not AT ALL funny – it doesn’t seem to know WHAT it wants to be.
For one thing, the songs appear to have come from A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FILM ALTOGETHER, and have just been slotted in randomly.
I want to see the film these songs BELONG in. Because THAT FILM WOULD BE AWESOME.
The romance track dies before it gets off the ground because if it was ever intended that Trisha and Akki be the next…err…Katrina and Akki (??) then having Akki PUNCH HER IN THE FACE and then provoke her to attempt suicide kind of killed it, as does the fact that Trisha is literally in the film for about five minutes all up. The ‘comedy’ seemed to be limited to Rajpal Yadav being a sleaze and Johny Lever (love him or hate him, I was actually relieved when he turned up because the film got less boring) and really really irritating interludes where everybody was yelling at each other slapsticking and misunderstanding and falling over.
But most of the time Khatta Meetha seemed to want to be some kind of dry lecture on economics and road construction and the bureaucracy involved in bridge or road construction in India, or how local government works; to which I really, seriously issue a big fat I DON’T GIVE A SHIT. A good, well constructed film can MAKE me care about the dullest, most mundane subjects: Khatta Meetha is neither good, nor is it well constructed.