WBRi Movie Review: DESI BOYZ (2011) – A "Mindless Entertainer" Taking Itself Too Seriously

Subah Hone Na De - A Hindi Film Song from Desi Boyz (2011)

[Desi Boyz Film Poster]Calcutta, Nov 28, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) In the mid-90s, director David Dhawan teamed up with Govinda to make a slew of funny and immensely successful films. While the critics kept on cribbing about the general low-brow nature of the humor in these movies, the general audience seemed to lap them up with glee. Indeed, Dhawan was hailed as the pioneer of the genre of ‘mindless entertainers.’ With ‘Desi Boyz’, the son of David, Rohit Dhawan marks his first foray into film direction. The results, however, are mixed, to put it politely.

‘Desi Boyz’ brings back the hit ‘Garam Masala’ jodi of Akshay Kumar and John Abraham. The success of the movie is crucial for them and particularly for Kumar, who has had a prolonged lean patch at the box-office. Chitrangada Singh, whom we so admired in the brilliant ‘Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi’, makes her full-scale mainstream debut with ‘Desi Boyz’, adding to the expectations and hype surrounding the movie.

The movie tells the story of ‘Nick’ (John Abraham), a successful MBA with a plush job and a gorgeous girlfriend ‘Radhika’ (Deepika Padukone) and ‘Jerry’ (Akshay Kumar), a man with little academic qualifications, but, as is the case with most leading men in Hindi movies, with a heart of gold. The two are best buddies, share a common apartment and John’s marriage with Deepika is on the horizon. What could possibly go wrong with this apparently rosy scenario? Well, almost everything can, for the year is 2009, the year of the global meltdown.

The worldwide economic crisis results in ‘Nick’ losing his job, while ‘Jerry’ is sacked from his post of a mall security person due to his inefficiency at work. The two appear for zillions of interviews, but with no results. While ‘Nick’ is ‘overqualified’ for most of the modest jobs on offer, ‘Jerry’ is way ‘underqualified’ for them. When all seems lost, the duo suddenly chances upon the business card of ‘Desi Boyz’, a rather shady club of male escorts. While ‘Jerry’ agrees to become a member of the gang, which has an overweight Sanjay Dutt as the boss, ‘Nick’ has his inhibitions and refuses to become a part of the club. Why does ‘Jerry’ agree to become a male escort so easily, you might ask? His quintessential heart of gold is at work here, since he needs financial stability to win back custody of Vir, his beloved nephew (played by an absolutely adorable Shraman Jain), who has been rendered an orphan, owing to the unfortunate demise of ‘Jerry’s sister and brother-in-law.

When one of the two unemployed heroes of the movie takes up an alternative career path, can the other be left far behind? No way. ‘Nick’ is soon convinced into joining ‘Jerry’ into the male escorting job. The two become ‘Rocco’ and ‘Hunter’, the most celebrated male strippers in town, so much so that, every second person kisses them and says ‘Thank you for last night (!!)’. However, misfortune follows the duo here too. Deepika, who had been, till now, kept in the dark about her boyfriend’s new ‘profession’, chances upon a YouTube video of a shirtless ‘Hunter’ (John) dancing his way to glory with a hoard of skimpily-clad ladies. The inevitable break-up happens, with a little bit (yes, thankfully, it WAS little!) of ‘rona-dhona’ thrown in.

Dumped and devastated, ‘Nick’ throws ‘Jerry’ out of their apartment and the latter loses custody of his nephew too. Holding his academic inadequacies as the chief cause of his plight, ‘Jerry’ decides to pursue higher studies at a posh college (don’t ask how he arranges for his educational expenses, for I don’t have a clue either!). There, he meets Chitrangada Singh, a former classmate of ‘Jerry’ and now his sensuous Economics professor. The lady takes it upon herself to ensure that ‘Jerry’ successfully completes his education. The incentives that she offers to ‘Jerry’ for studying diligently are, however, dubious, to say the least.

‘Nick’, meanwhile, persists in his attempts to win back ‘Radhika’s ‘ affections and he finds an unexpected ally in Anupam Kher, playing the role of Deepika’s father in the movie. He ultimately succeeds to win back his girl, the recession recedes, and ‘Nick’ gets a well-paying job once again. His rift with ‘Jerry’ ends too, with the two ‘hugging and making up’, so to speak. An expected happy ending follows.

Akshay Kumar proves his spontaneous flair for comic roles yet again in ‘Desi Boyz’. However, the characters he has been portraying in his past few films is becoming alarmingly repetitive and the actor definitely needs to try out different roles. John, the man of two expressions (the ‘I-know-all’ smirk and the ‘I-can-bash-you-up’ tough look), however, is simply not cut out for a comic role. He tries too hard to get into the character of ‘Nick’ and the effort shows onscreen, never a good thing for an actor. All that Deepika gets to do in the movie is frown and then, frown some more. One wonders if some of the frown was actually directed towards the filmmakers. Chitrangada Singh looks a million bucks and performs well, but this was a role she could have done without. Anupam Kher is likeable. Omi Vaidya sparkles in a small role. Sanjay Dutt, with the oft-repeated ‘Khalnayak’ theme music being belted out whenever he appears on screen, is okay.

What the film mainly suffers from is a distinct lack of consistency in its narrative. The first half is breezy enough but all the build-up goes haywire with the boring, clumsily put-together post-interval portion of the movie. Unlike David Dhawan’s movies, Rohit manages to bring out only a few genuine laughs from the audience. Dialogues, penned by Milap Zaveri, range from witty to downright cringeworthy. The musical score of the film is strictly average, with only the title track and, to a lesser extent, ‘Allah Maaf Kare’, worth listening to. The excess Punjabi flavour in practically all the songs is rather jarring.

On the whole, ‘Desi Boyz’ is a lavishly made and rather beautifully shot movie, but suffers severely from a weak plot, bored performances and immature direction. This is one ‘mindless entertainer’ which takes itself too seriously – a strict ‘no-no’ for any film belonging to this genre. Rohit Dhawan may yet turn out to be one of the finest filmmakers of our times, but ‘Desi Boyz’ is certainly is not the best start.

Rating: 2.5/5

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