Never judge a book by its cover. But we do! We tend to get carried away by eye-catching promos that a film-maker unleashes prior to a film's release. We act in haste, rush to a nearby cineplex and soon realise that the best parts were actually highlighted in the promos itself.
That's exactly what you feel when you watch Paying Guests, helmed by first-timer Paritosh Painter. Comedy is serious business and Paritosh Painter ought to know this by now, since he has successfully directed a number of plays in the past. Sadly, Paying Guests stands on a waferthin plot, although Paritosh tries hard to add meat to the skeletal body. The film doesn't have the power to hold your attention for the next 2 hours, although it does [intermittently] make you smile or break into a guffaw.
Earlier too, we've had our macho men getting disguised as girls [Rishi Kapoor and Paintal in Rafoo Chakkar were hilarious], but Paying Guests tries so hard to tickle your funny bone, but falls flat. Final word? This comedy is more of a tragedy... for its viewers!
What happens when four fun-loving boys [Shreyas Talpade, Javed Jaffrey, Ashish Chowdhry and Vatsal Sheth] begin a crazy house hunt? In the search for a new accommodation, these crazy friends manage to convince their crazier landlord Ballu [Johny Lever] to keep them as paying guests, but Ballu has one condition, i.e. he wants only couples. However, the problem is they are all bachelors. Who will play their wives?
Paying Guests may be a remake of a play, but it also bears a striking resemblance to Sachin's super-successful Marathi film Ashi Hi Banwa Banwi. Paying Guests starts off very well, but runs out of fuel in its initial 30 minutes itself. You do laugh aloud initially and expect to wear a smile on your face all through the film, but the smile turns into a smirk gradually. Actually, the on-screen characters laugh all the while, not the audience.
Paying Guests fails to deliver thanks to a poor screenplay. Barring the four heroes and the landlords [Johny Lever and Delnaaz Paul], the remaining characters in the film just don't work. The four leading ladies have nothing worthwhile to do and even the negative forces here [Chunkey Pandey and Inder Kumar] are wasted.
The climax - in a theatre, with every character doing a spoof - is a straight lift from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. Paritosh Painter had an interesting idea on hand, but the writing plays the villain here. Sajid-Wajid's music is a ear-sore. Barring 'Jack & Jill', the remaining songs lack energy. Visually, the film looks good, with the locales of Bangkok and Pattaya adding freshness to the enterprise.
Of the cast, Shreyas is the best, followed by Javed, then Ashish and then Vatsal - in that order. The leading ladies don't have much to do, but Celina and Neha are most noticeable. Riya and Sayali Bhagat don't get any scope. Johny Lever is in form and so is Delnaaz Paul. Chunkey Pandey is alright, while Inder Kumar is wasted. Asrani stands out, while Viju Khote and Paintal are okay. On the whole, this paying guest is just not welcome!