From 'Bombay to Bangkok', there's nothing to cheer (Film review)

Film: 'Bombay To Bangkok'; Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Lina Christianson, Vijay Maurya, Yatin Karyekar; Director: Nagesh Kukunoor; Rating: *

Sunday, January 20, 2008 | 7:31:30 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Film: 'Bombay To Bangkok'; Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Lina Christianson, Vijay Maurya, Yatin Karyekar; Director: Nagesh Kukunoor; Rating: *

There are some delectable references to films gone by in this comic road romp about a chef who masquerades as a medico, and a call girl who masquerades as little Lolita. In hot pursuit is a rapper (Vijay Mourya, marginally funny) who just can't stop rhyming cheesy sentiments.

You'd expect the satirical sparks to just fly. After all, Nagesh Kukunoor has films as varied in tone but as inflexibly meritorious as '3 Deewarein' and 'Dor' to his credit.

But hell! Kukunoor misses the bus by a wide margin. The supposedly funny moments are mired in self-importance. The raunchy bits make you wince leaving you tediously compromised and blatantly bored as the first-half with some mildly mirthful moments makes way for a baggy loose and awry second-half.

By the time we come to the end of this cumbersome tale of a tourist and tart, you want to just.... well, you know the flatulent word that rhymes with tart. Or you just want to throw both of them into the nearest sea.

Talpade, an actor of occasionally-endearing resources, seems to find no help from the script or the director in making his character of a stowaway acquire a life beyond the prescribed puerility. His chemistry with his co-star (who plays the call girl as though it was the coolest calling in the universe) is a notch above the snow line.

Frigid and frozen, the linguistically and culturally incompatible couple locks lingo and lips to prove they are in love. He'd have been better off simply paying for the sex rather than pretending to court her to bed.

The support provided for love to evolve in the script and direction is so minimal that you wonder what Kukunoor was thinking when he put the 'desi' chef and his Malaysian play-mate into a film that treats crime time as a rap song and the road-romance-thriller as a cauldron of kill-joy techniques.

Hints in the first-half of romantic situations and songs from old movies hardly help. Every time, the happy hooker strolls in, we hear Kishore Kumar croon 'Ek hasina thi...' from the movie 'Karz'.

And when Shankar, the sham doc wants a signal from heaven about his love, Kishore Kumar comes on television singing 'Jaani Oh Janni'.

If music is the food of love, Kukunoor dished out indigestion. The most delicious song-recall comes when the chef posing as a doctor offers to cook for his entire team where Kukunoor uses the Manna Dey song 'Bhor Ayee Gaya Andhiyara' from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Bawarchi' to drive home the point.

But the point is, there is no point. The ostensibly clever bits in the road romance (check out the interlude where Jasmine picks up a stranger as the third passenger on her scooter with Shankar) are exasperatingly self-important. The stupid bits are just not funny enough to quality as goofily cute comic material.

The plot is strewn with potholes and the characters seem to be stuffing themselves with a laughter that never explodes to reach the audience. Kukunoor goes the whole hog.... the film has dick jokes, fart jokes though blessedly no boob jokes...Otherwise you name it. It's all there.

But sorry Nagesh Babu! Nothing works. Not even the rather unusual locales in Malaysia and Bangkok or the awesome Naseeruddin Shah's cameo appearance as an aging underworld don.

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