All through the weekend, I have read atleast 4-5 reviews of Sajid Khan’s latest big budget summer film, Humshakals. Even the most sellout critics, or rather trade analysts, have ruthlessly panned it, painting it as a blustery, agonizingly mawkish film. Some may think that why do these people bother to go and watch his films when they are already expecting a steady quality decline. One answer to that is that reviewing Humshakals is like reviewing any other weekend release, a job for most critics. The other answer is that we voraciously look forward to Sajid’s film to pull out our knives and go scything at him, producing a hilarious piece for people to read and share on social networks. I have only one question to everyone – What did you go in expecting in a Sajid Khan film? You already knew Humshakals will serve the most puerile form of physical comedy, most of which may also not be as funny. Then why the mercurial tempers at having received exactly that. Here is where I tend to think that critics look forward to such opportunities, which is a little uncalled for.
Now, Sajid Khan is no less reprehensible for this scrappy mess. Humshakals starts with a ‘Directors Note’ which reads – “A wise man once told me…..err…err….I forgot what he told me.” Really? Recently, I saw an episode of a popular TV show where the whole team of the film had come to promote it. Even the host of the show, known for cracking some of the wittiest unscripted jokes, was appalled at seeing Sajid laughing the most at the least funny moments, more often than not. I strongly felt that Sajid’s standards of laughter are so low himself that he symptomatically reproduces the same in his films. I have also followed the making blogs of the film, and it is alarmingly evident that Sajid himself is laughing the loudest after each shot on set. I fail to understand how any of these signs could be misread by a producer who is shelling out cash for a disaster recipe. I walked into Humshakals expecting very very less and received no major jarring setback post that. We must understand that whether we want to believe it or not, a large section of our movie going audience is extremely pea-brained and easily amused by the crassest and lamest of comedies on screen. Remember that TV show I was talking about earlier? Yes, that.
Having said that, Humshakals runs on a brand of physical comedy that can be summed up in many insulting adjectives. But the same brand of comedy is used around the world to devise similar films that are grossly insensitive, uniformly low-IQ and largely scurrilous. Some of them run well there, mostly because they are true to their seeds. However, Sajid Khan’s films get into slushy puddles because their plot and jokes both misfire. Same is the problem with Humshakals which takes an interesting hyperbolic concept but stretches it so much with unfunny jokes that you feel like you have been locked up in a remote cottage and Sajid is plucking your nails from their roots, one at a time. With Humshakals, he serves us festering curd in the garb of a film, and this painful exercise lasts for 159 minutes. The funny moments, if any, get majorly diluted by a haphazard yet stick thin plotline. While the whole film runs on two look alikes of each male lead, Sajid dooms it with a third look alike of each in the final 20 minutes. While the comedy may be low-IQ, fresh writing can bring in a string of inspired moments that don’t have to go by logic or brains.Yet again, the people I went with did not mind the movie as they had already heard very bad reviews. In my personal opinion, a much shorter runtime and a much less focus on dialogue twisted bad jokes would have made Humshakals a much better physical comedy. Writers Sajid Khan, Robin Bhatt and Akarsh Khurana could have avoided such a louche job, but do they realize this?
Produced by Vashu Bhagnani, Humshakals is made on a preposterous budget reserving their faith in some astronomical returns. The film’s music by Himesh Reshammiya is no hit, but the songs do have an uncanny tendency of sticking to the inside of your head, the way you dont want it to. Ravi Yadav’s cinematography is actually a shoddy effort with some really bad framing of simple shots. Editor Bunty Nagi’s work is inconspicuous in the final product. Most of the other technical departments regurgitate effects from previous Sajid films and are extremely average. It is appalling to see this kind of money being poured into making this film which is coming after a Himmatwala from the same director.
I am not sure if I am capable enough to adjudge the performances by each actor in the film. The girls, Bipasha Basu, Esha Gupta and Tamannah Bhatia have barely anything to do except to show some skin and a line here and there. It is a pity that dwarves, mannequins and animals get more to do in Sajid’s films than lead actresses. One must wonder what goes on in Sajid’s first script narration meeting with these girls. Out of the boys, it is only Riteish Deshmukh who shows a minor flair for comic timing in this sprawling dud. Saif Ali Khan is so out of his comfort zone and struggles to match upto the extreme physical comedy required out of him. For most of the film, he looks like an uncle who walked in to a cacophonic teen party next door to his house. Ram Kapoor gets a meaty role this time and does okay for most parts, except when he is trapped by Sajid to romance his own female version.
On the whole for me, Humshakals is a gormless dosage of the asinine, done in the most distasteful manner, served with ample lameness. It is a bad film of its kind, this kind of film itself is not bad. And how I wish more of us understood that. For a non-critical audience, Humshakals is not garbage if they go in with minimal expectations. A few laughs and chuckles here and there may come in for them amidst the grotesqueness. It has taken a slow start at the Box Office and I am not expecting it to do better with a tremendously well-marketed film coming next week. It may be time for Sajid Khan to sit back and reinvent the physical comedy genre, if he is serious about pioneering it for the rest of his career. Instead of trying too hard to piss off the dismissive critics, he must deliver something genuinely funny since it has been a long time. This is for him. As for the audience, watch Humshakals only if you have to!
Rating – 1.5/5