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Subhash K Jha speaks about Mr. White Mr. Black

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Mr. White and Mr. Black
Hours before I saw white-and-all-black I asked a colleague what kind of a review she was going to give the film. "I'm not going waste any space on this one," she retorted. Frankly, even for a diehard movie buff like yours truly sticking through this piece of risible rap (give or take a 'c') was an ordeal akin to a visit to the dentist. No, I take that back. I any day prefer molar surgery to watching white black and red-faced farces.

First the positive comments. Suniel Shetty as the boor from Hoshiarpur chasing poor Arshad Warsi all over Goa in the effort to bring him back to the village for a barren stretch of land, safeguarding a spoilt heiress from debauchery is obviously inspired by Akshay Kumar in Sabse Bada Khiladi. Sunil does the innocent-abroad act with a warmth and compassion that this project doesn't deserve.

The land of the bland stretches from the first frame to the last. The first-half does have a few funny moments, like Sunil's dhoti being pulled off by a dour doggie(ha ha ha) and a roguish Warsi hoodwinking an innocent Goa ki gori (newcomer Rashmi Nigam) into believing his double is doing all the gadbad (Jewel Thief, anyone?). The second half is based entirely on a series of improvised gags with the Warsi-Shetty duo trying hard to breathe life into a dead script.

Once director Shivdasani takes the characters to Goa he seems to have gone on a holiday. And he seems to have taken the scriptwriter (if he ever existed) with him. What we are left with is an amateurish clumsy parade of skits masquerading as spurts of satire. But acute exasperation is all this furiously frigid 'wannbe'-funny-film gets out of us. Tediously structured to echo the manipulative maneuvers of a monstrously mediocre man of mirth who can't tell the difference between cheers and jeers Mr. White... makes you think only black thoughts about the future of comedy.

Arguably, Mr. White&Mr. Black is the worst comedy to have come out of Mumbai's dream factory in recent times, lower down on the scale of pale laughter than even the horrendous Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama. It's not the quality of performances (Shetty good, Warsi very good, and some of the supporting cast more tolerable than the material allows them to be). It isn't even the fault of the production values (Thomas Xavier's cinematography gets Goa going on a 'slight'-seeing spree).

Damnit, so who's to blame for the roya-all mess of, ha ha, a comedy about a lovable charlatan who poses as a diamond robber and hotel owner and god-knows-what-else in this you me and ho-hum laugathon which thinks jokes about skin colour (Ashish Vidyarthi is called koyle ki khaan) and humor about a dead mother (Shashikala in a guest appearance) being relived through old Hindi movies could keep the spirit of a modern-day satire alive.

Sorry, Mr. White and Mr. Black is as amusing as a dog peeing on a Kashmiri carpet. Who just urinated on our sense of humor? Could it be the makers of this ghastly travesty of a film? What was the gifted Sandhya Mridul thinking doing Charlie's Angels with two chinky chicks who think flying through the air in clumsy f-x scenes is akin to touching paradise? There are a couple debutante leading ladies hoping to become stars after this film. One of them looks like Preity Zinta on a bad-hair day and Bobby Darling on a good-hair day. And that's a funnier joke than anything you'll see.

Oh, I forgot. There is actually a funny joke in this film. And it's to do with a hugely gifted comic actor called Jameel Khan who was a laugh riot as a music-contest organizer in Manish Acharya's Loins Of Punjab Presents. In White Black and Purple Jameel is reduced to an un-funny non-entity. While everyone else is trying hard to be comic, the film's biggest comic talent stands apart. What was Jameel thinking? A good question for everyone involved except the director. It's easy to see he wasn't thinking at all.

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