REVIEW: ‘Ghanchakkar’ – A Half-Baked Comedy

Like most Bollywood films, 'Ghanchakkar' starts off painting a pretty picture, laying out the premise and conflict superbly. But by interval, things go awry in this black-comedy.

‘Ghanchakkar’ is a feast for deadened senses.

Like most Bollywood films, it starts off painting a pretty picture, laying out the premise and conflict superbly. But by interval, things go awry in this black-comedy, and the film is assaulted by a bad case of ‘the curse of the second half’.

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A lazy, good-for-nothing stay-at-home husband Sanjay Atre (Emraan Hashmi) is goaded into a last con job for the promised sum of Rs 10 crore by his loud, brash, aggressive Punjabi “ultra-modern” housewife (Vidya Balan).

His two partners in crime- the older, gentler Pandit (played by a superbly in- form Rajesh Sharma) and a younger, gun-slinging, foul-mouthed Idriss (Namit Das) succeed in robbing the ABI Bank with Hashmi’s help, and then dump the entire loot into a giant suitcase, which they leave in Hashmi’s custody.

Three months later, Hashmi has no memory of either the con or the two men who accompanied him on the job. He is a blank slate, wiped clean of the burden of the suitcase full of money. How he attempts to locate the hidden loot, whether he really has amnesia and the involvement of his wife in the entire con job form the crux of the film.

The film really does suffer at the hands of poor writing, especially in the second half. The resolution of the conflict is unsatisfactory, as are the many loose ends in sub-plots, which are conveniently left untied.

Having said that, a few sparkling scenes stand out: the ‘conference’ held by the two bumbling thieves in a local train’s compartment, the delightful actual bank robbery sequence involving a trio of filmstar-face masks, Emraan Hashmi’s shirtless preparation in the anti-climactic scene, the forced gavage of a roadside vendor’s herbal concoction upon Atre, to help him remember; and the constant inadequacies of the two idiotic, half-baked thieves, Pandit and Idriss, who bandy about their guns but use them sparingly.

Lead actors Hashmi and Balan have stuck to the brief given by their director, but are unable to overcome the hurdles posed by the lacklustre script. Emraan is marvellous as the forgetful, straight-faced thief Sanjay Atre, till the very end, while Vidya Balan’s Neetu is over-the-top (as she is supposed to be), but that constant refrain of “Heh?” gets to you within the first twenty minutes.

The problem, therefore, is that the jokes are one-dimensional, and are too few and far between. The wittiest lines have been bludgeoned to death in the promos, and the climax is a pure letdown. Crisper editing and a stronger, more intriguing script could have changed the entire equation.

Disappointing, coming from a director who has the sensitive, finely nuanced ‘No One Killed Jessica’ and the critically acclaimed ‘Aamir’ under his belt.

Perhaps Rajkumar Gupta would be better suited to stick to fast-paced, gritty thrillers, where his forte seems to lie.

Rating: **1/2

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