I had been ready for the Hindi remake of the Telugu Ready since almost the first moment I heard about the film. Southern remakes usually play really well with my specific demographic of myself - and remakes starring Salman Khan do even better! The trailers and promos all promised a cotton-candy colored comedy with just a dash of romance and action. Not only that but the soundtrack - specifically “Dhinka Chika” - has been stuck in my head since the music was released.
With the hype and hysteria surrounding Salman Khan post his bang-up success in Dabangg reaching fever pitch, there are a lot of expectations riding on Ready - and not just from me. Let me start off by saying that Ready is 100% an Anees Bazmee film. This is not (I repeat: NOT) another epic masala film in the mold of Dabangg or Wanted. Ready is a sublimely ridiculous comedy in the mold of Welcome. If you enjoyed Welcome (or Singh is Kinng or Thank You or No Entry) then Ready with its puns, gags, double entendres, and crotch shots, will not disappoint. Fortunately, I really enjoy the oeuvre of Mr. Anees Bazmee so I laughed by butt off at all the appropriate places.
The main narrative drive is fairly simple - Salman Khan plays Prem, a good-hearted boy who refuses to get married. So, when the family’s priest finds a suitable girl for Prem and insists that he pick her up from the airport, Prem wants no part of it and decides to just pretend to wait around for the girl. And who happens to be walking past at the moment when Prem is explaining everything out loud but lovely Sanjana (played by lovely Asin with her big flashing eyes used to full effect.) Sanjana is on the run from a forced marriage to the son of a mafia don and decides to pretend to be the girl that Prem is supposed to pick up from the airport. (Why doesn’t she have luggage? Oh, no problem, says Sanjana. She’s staying with her in-laws so why does she need luggage! Why is she dressed like a bride? Every woman looks her best as a bride and I wanted to make a good impression says Sanjana!) Needless to say, the fraud is eventually exposed and then another fraud must be perpetrated on the mafia dons (there are two now) so that Sanjana and Prem can marry in peace.
So, there are a few things that really stood out for me in Ready.
1. Salman Khan and Asin have surprisingly good chemistry. I say this as somebody who actually SAW the ill-fated London Dreams. Salman was on fire through the whole film. He was charming, energetic, and just plain adorable. Prem is kind of a cheeky guy and there were times when one of the older characters would be giving a lecture or saying something ridiculous and Salman would be in frame looking like the cat that ate the canary and it just made me crack up laughing.
Asin, of course, was excellent. She is vivacious pretty in her candy colored frocks. And Asin really has a strong on-screen presence - something that is needed opposite one of the Three Khans. No shrinking violets here...
2. The supporting cast was huge and featured a pleasing number of hilarious ladies - the standouts were young Amar Singh’s mother, who enjoyed dirty talks, and the woman playing Paresh Rawal’s wife, who liked to fantasize about all the ways he could die. As for the men, along with the solid cast of Paresh Rawal, Sharat Saxena, Akhilendra Mishra, Mahesh Manjrekar, and Manoj Joshi, there is Arya Babbar, who is always a welcome sight and he was playing one of his typical dimbulb roles with aplomb. But the surprise scene stealer was the boy playing the spoiled rotten Amar Singh. I don’t usually like children in films but this kid was hilarious in his tantrums!
3. The editing and cinematography were a lot of fun and really dynamic. We’re talking triple takes, zoom-ins, creative transitions between scenes, shaking the camera for emphasis/anger, and a whole bag of other loud and delightfully low brow tricks. One really clever shot stands out - towards the end, Salman is fighting this one rowdy with a bouquet of flowers (don’t ask) and suddenly we see the shower of petals go into the slow motion but Salman and the rowdy are still in regular motion but they’re fighting in slow motion and the layers just add up into this totally bizarre fight sequence. Another clever little scene has to do with the sound design (packed full of sound effects but, alas, no vocals that repeat the name of the film over and over as in Rohit Shetty films. i.e. “Golmaaaal.”) Prem and Sanjana are driving and each is voice overing their thoughts but as they do this it becomes clear that they are having a conversation even though their lips aren’t moving! It’s in voice-over!! There were so many nice little gags like this. They really made the film.
4. The pack of guys sitting towards the back of the theater laughed really hard at all the butt, fart, and peeing related jokes. I would never laugh at such stuff... oh, I’m totally lying. Of course I laughed really hard when Arya Babbar accidentally sat on a hot plate. It was FUNNY, okay?
5. Aside from some whorey goris at the beginning of Character Dheela there was very little flesh on display from either gender. And speaking of which, I really liked Zarine Khan in the song. Girl has some charisma!
In short, Ready is just a fun comedy film. I know that some of the reviews were pretty scathing but, honestly, I suspect that most of that negativity comes from both the unmet expectations that this would be another Wanted and some resentment that Anees Bazmee is still making populist films for the masses. I know Ready isn’t great cinema and, frankly, I don’t care. If Anees Bazmee has a running theme to his films it’s this: Don’t be a jerk, have a good time instead! And if you ask Filmi Girl, that is a message worth sticking out there in the world.