Saturday, November 26, 2011

Desi Boyz: Make Some NOISE!



Desi Boyz is that rare film that delivers much more than the trailer promises... which is a mark of high praise, indeed, considering the trailer promises Bollywood hunks John Abraham and Akshay Kumar in various states of undress. David “Bikini Girl No. 1” Dhawan’s son Rohit has delivered a debut film that is surprisingly grown-up in its comedy and its themes. Sexy, saucy, frequently ridiculous, and with a heart as big as John’s pecs, Desi Boyz is a damn good time.



The film begins in 2009 as the financial crisis really began to hit. We meet Jerry (Akshay Kumar) and Nick (John Abraham), roommates and best friends - although Nick pays all the bills in their fancy bachelor pad, much to his fiancee Radhika’s (Deepika Padukone) chagrin. Things seem to be going alone fine until Nick is laid off from his perfect job doing businessman stuff in the financial district. Eternal slacker and college dropout Jerry certainly can’t find a job to pick up the slack, so what are our two beefcakes to do? How will the bills get paid?

Thanks to a brilliantly delivered deus-ex-machina Nick and Jerry are able to earn some quick cash by becoming “Desi Boyz” - men who act as paid companions for women, providing entertainment or company, whatever a lady desires. Unfortunately, Nick had decided to keep fiancee Radhika in the dark about his new field of employment and she throws him over when she finds out. Nick blames Jerry and throws HIM out... and we get to the meat of the film, which are the parallel stories of Jerry growing up and taking responsibility for himself and Nick and Radhika reconciling. And, let me tell you that while the pre-interval “Desi Boyz” shenanigans got most of the attention during the promotions, it’s actually the post-interval melodrama that makes the film worthwhile.

Rohit Dhawan may be of the new generation of directors but he shows a clear understanding for what makes a Bollywood film click because at its heart Desi Boyz is a timeless story of dostana, the kind Jai and Veeru shared. Radhika may now be living in London and making jokes about orgasms* instead of demurely serving chai in Chandigar but when a film includes maa-bap, multiple cases of lost-and-found, deus-ex-machinas, and a climatic courtroom scene in which all the characters get together to rehash the themes of the film for the audience, you know that it hasn’t lost sight of what truly matters in Masala Pradesh.

The Desi Boyz heart may be evergreen but among the many nice surprises in the film was Rohit Dhawan’s sense of humor. He breaks the fourth wall, finds humor in characters not costumes, and gives all the gags room to breath. For example, the friendship that develops between Anupam Kher’s comedy uncle and Nick is slow-burning but the pay off is really funny. And while I’m tempted to pull a Taran Adarsh and recite everything that made me laugh, I’ll restrain myself and just say that among the gags that made me giggle was an extended poke at all the 40+ heroes playing college roles.

Besides the humor, the songs were also a nice surprise. I had seen the teasers before but on the big screen they really popped - especially “Allah Maaf Kare,” which features excellent use of background dancers. And “Make Some Noise For the Desi Boyz” is really quite overpowering when seen on the big screen. Oiled up John and Akshay do not disappoint. Major kudos to Bosco-Cesar who choreographed the film.

As for performances, Akshay is the soul of the film. He puts effortlessly pivots from comedy to camp to romance to family drama and takes his co-stars along with him. But John has developed a lot as an actor since the days of Garam Masala and is finally able to hold the screen with khiladi. Deepika is extremely grating in the first half and her collar bones still look like they’ll take an eye out but by the second half of the film Radhika becomes much more likable, as does Deepika. She and John don’t have sizzling chemistry by any means but their jodi has a friendly feel to it which served the film just fine. Chitrangda Singh, on the other hand, was sizzling with Akshay - VERY sizzling. She was delighful as the brainy, self-confident Tanya. Anupam Kher, Omi Vaidya, and (shockingly) Rajat Barmecha provided lots of laughs.

What else is there to say about Desi Boyz? I could write pages and pages unpacking the complicated mass of sociological meaning tied up in the role of female desire in the film or why it’s still necessary for these NRI films to include two or three jingoistic moments where a white person says/does something blatantly racist in order to provoke a speech about how great India is** but that would be overkill. All I really need to tell you is that Desi Boyz is a fun film with a good heart and well worth paying to see.

And let me extend a hearty Filmi Girl welcome to Rohit Dhawan - your talents are much needed here in Masala Pradesh! Here’s to the next film!

* Yes, this happens. And it’s hilarious.
** Which Rohit’s script does BUT THEN MAKES FUN OF in one of my favorite gags in the film.

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Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl