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Sex Comedy for Indian Culture: Indra Kumar’s Great Grand Masti

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It’s difficult to remember the last time Bollywood made a memorable comedy. If it is sex comedy then forget it, seems to be the mantra. This year alone we’ve had four (or more, who can count?) miserable films in the name of comedy. Housefull 3, Kya Kool Hai Hum 3, Mastizaade and now we have Great Grand Masti. Only one among them isn’t a franchise in its third sequel. Something is working. Either that or the filmmakers don’t care. All four of them have Riteish Deshmukh. It’s a wonder what turns him on. Two of them have Tusshar Kapoor. Aftab Shivdasani too has two films in that list. There is clearly a pattern.

The films themselves don’t have anything going for them. It’s the same old, same old you hear every time a movie like this hits the screens. The jokes are sexist, at times misogynistic. They feature terrible acting, not to mention overacting. The first casualty here is Usha Nadkarni who plays Amar’s (Riteish Deshmukh) mother-in-law. It is notable that Aftab as Prem gives her a stiff competition. How do you go 18 years (not counting your child artist days) in an industry without a single hint of talent? At least Vivek Oberoi – playing Meet here – had his glory days during the Company and Yuva period. But what can you do if your sum total of jokes involves Viagra induced table lifting championships, a godman who speaks only in film songs and whatever is left has to do with the female anatomy. There is one joke on Ramsay Brothers that works, got to give them that.

What do you talk about when you talk about bad films? Can you read into bad, thoughtless films the way you read into well written, thoughtful films? Sure you can! There is a lot of evidence in Great Grand Masti that way, only the reading is more disturbing than fun. There is Ragini (Urvashi Rautela) expressing her sexual urges, forcefully suppressed for decades, that suddenly throws our sex starved protagonists off-balance. Indra Kumar – no surprises here if one is familiar with his 90s films – has just ended up making the most sanskaari sex comedy. Someone like Ragini, in his universe, can only be the antagonist, to be beaten with a stick and slut-shamed. Did I mention Kumar has a karva chauth scene and how the moonlight gives our men the will and weapon to finally banish Ragini? The will comes from the pure souls of the wives, who continue to fast even after the men have misbehaved with Amar’s mother-in-law! Also this is supposed to be a cliffhanger of sorts – the men are angry the wives are not keeping fast at first (How did you guys suddenly forget the film you are in?! This is what happens when each of you act in more than one per year.) and then see the wives disposing their full plates of food. Now they are battle-hardened to face Ragini, the wedge in their otherwise happy married life. Indra Kumar deserves a round of applause for doing the impossible. He’s made a “sex comedy” that slut-shames, advises wives on Indian culture and shows how men would be men if the the wives weren’t more forgiving or if their lives didn’t revolve around their men. Indra Kumar insists there is also a horror movie in there somewhere. Oh there sure is.

(An edited version of this was published in The New Indian Express)

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