Nautanki Saala


Did Rohan Sippy release this film a week before what could have been the perfect date? This is a zany part interesting, part laborious take on Ramlila and exactly a week after its release was Ramanavami. But more than the perfect timing it could have helped if Sippy had made the final portions of this film a bit tighter and more funnier, little less theatrical (this is most definitely intentional but the fact is it doesn’t work)  and cut off a couple of musical interludes.

But credit to Sippy for keeping things intriguing and greatly winning on the atmospheric front. Rohan Sippy has always been impressive, to me at least, with his films and a sense of establishing a world. Almost all his opening credits are well thought out. It is always Bombay, but it is Rohan Sippy’s Bombay and Rohan Sippy’s Goa. The colours are vibrant yet natural. This was more pronounced in Dum Maaro Dum than anything else. The neon signs for Tibb’s frankie and the like; large movie-poster like hoardings for a play and the overacting producer who is also Surpanakha! All this lending it a more noir look for a comedy film. It is also littered with film references even if he is a bit partial to his father, it falls subtly into place in almost every script. Sholay might itself have a Ramayan connection but here too there are two friends, a suicide attempt and then there is the title itself.

Ayushman Khurana’s RP might well be Dittu from Bluffmaster. The same sort of humbling naivete mixed with cunning bravado and if you’ve watched Bluffmaster you’ll know that Dittu turns out to be the director of it all. And this film has top notch performances from both Khurana and Kunal Roy Kapoor. The comedy and the play portions are probably the best things about the film while the love story, though initially good, becomes painful by the end. Also, Evelyn Sharma – who plays Sita in the play within the film – would have made a far better Sita-in-the-film than Pooja Salvi.

The Ram-Raavan dichotomy is played for laughs all through the parts that work and this film could have turned out far better if it had retained its absurdity (Think the board on the gate that roughly says – “Don’t explode bombs here. The media becomes a pain.”) a bit longer and decided not to take itself seriously. But the good news is Rohan Sippy continues to be one of the directors to look forward to.


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