The name Priyadarshan is synonymous with comic fares. It instantaneously conjures up images of several entertaining films he has attempted over the years. Naturally, you expect his new outing Mere Baap Pehle Aap to be a joyride as well. Even the promos of the film, beamed round the clock on TV, give an impression that it's a laugh-riot.
Sure, Mere Baap Pehle Aap has its share of light moments that make you chuckle, even break into laughter, but it's not a laughathon from start to end. From the interval point onwards, right till the finale, the focus shifts to drama, making the goings-on serious at times.
One factor that goes against the film is its length. The concept is truly novel -- for the Hindi screen at least -- but how one wishes Priyan would've controlled its length. Movies of 2 to 2.15 hours duration are fine, but 2.40 hours [add to it the promos of new films, plus interval makes it a 3-hour outing] is strictly no-no in today's times. Priyan should've brought down the length for sure!
Despite hiccups, Mere Baap Pehle Aap has endearing moments that work to its advantage. In a nutshell, it had the potential to rise to the level of Garam Masala, Bhagam Bhag and Bhool Bhulaiyaa, but it eventually ends up being an average fare!
Janaradhan [Paresh Rawal] has spent his life bringing up his two kids, Chirag [Manoj Joshi] and Gaurav [Akshaye Khanna]. Now when the duo has grown up, Gaurav takes up the responsibility of his father. They both manage the household chores and their business to the best of their abilities. Though he is the younger son, he treats his father like his son. Gaurav shouts, threatens, fights, even locks up his father occasionally so that his prankster-friend Madhav [Om Puri], who is desperate to get married, does not spoil him.
Madhav and Janaradhan, who are always in search of a bride for Madhav, forever land up in trouble and every time Gaurav has to bail them out and face the embarrassment.
Gaurav starts getting prank calls from a girl who turns out to be his old college friend Shikha [Genelia D'Souza]. Shikha is staying with her guardian Anuradha [Shobhana], who happens to be Janardhan's first love.
Gaurav and Shikha notice changes in Janaradhan and Anuradha's behaviors when they come face to face after many years. They come to know about their past. Now Gaurav wants his father to get married to his lost love. Of course, the path is not so smooth, there are obstacles.
Mere Baap Pehle Aap begins really well. Om Puri's roving eye, Paresh Rawal's timid nature, Om and Paresh's encounter with lady cop Archana Puransingh -- the sequences are truly very enjoyable. But Genelia's constant calls to Akshaye, though meant to be equally interesting, fall flat; they hardly evoke any mirth.
The twist in the tale -- when Paresh spots Shobhana -- increases your anxiety and you look forward to a gripping tale in the second hour. But it's a mixed bag again. Agreed, people may scoff at the idea of a 60 + man wanting to get married, even though his son [of marriageable age] is a bachelor, but it could've been presented more convincingly. Here, the writer is at fault. The Naseeruddin Shah track in the finale is fine, but his bowing down to Akshaye in a fraction of a minute is difficult to digest.
Directorially, Priyan knows the craft well, no two opinions on that, but he needs to judiciously trim the film by at least 30 minutes for a stronger impact. Vidyasagar's music is a major disappointment. Barring the title track, which runs on the end credits, the other tracks are strictly okay. Piyush Shah's cinematography is excellent and the stunning locales of Kerala act as icing on the cake. Dialogues deserve special mention. Some of the lines are truly well penned. Editing is the weakest link of the enterprise.
Both Akshaye and Paresh live their roles, though there's a possibility that a section of the audience may not really like the son bossing over his father. Acting-wise, Akshaye is, as always, very much with the character, essaying his part with incredible ease. Paresh gets a solid role yet again and he sinks his teeth into it. Again, a job well done!
Genelia looks fresh and pairs off well with Akshaye. She leaves a mark. Om Puri is lovable and a major asset for this movie. Archana Puransingh is excellent. Rajpal Yadav is wasted. Ditto for the powerhouse of talent, Shobhana. She deserved a better deal. Manoj Joshi is fair. Naseeruddin Shah is effective, as always.
On the whole, Mere Baap Pehle Aap is enjoyable in parts -- an entertaining first hour, a not-too-entertaining second hour. At the box-office, it's at best an average fare. However, the prospects should improve if the makers trim the film from 2.40 hours to 2.10 hours.