When Priyadarshan and Akshay Kumar join hands, you expect the cineplex to reverberate with laughter. Let's not forget, the team has regaled us with some terrific entertainers in the past. Naturally then, you expect Khatta Meetha to take the legacy forward.
Unfortunately, Khatta Meetha is noise (the actors scream a lot in this movie), more noise (the great promotion) and only noise, while the content takes a complete backseat. Although Khatta Meetha shouldn't be compared to this combo's earlier works, since this one's a satire, I have to add that this is their weakest film to date.
The first question I asked myself once the movie got over was, what's the story? Okay, okay, neither did Priyadarshan's last few films had a story to tell, but when you attempt a satire, when one talks of the hardships faced by the common man, when one talks of corruption in society, there HAS to be a story in place. That goes without saying!
Khatta Meetha raises a finger at the corruption in government establishments, but what it tries to say, or expose, has been witnessed over and over again. In fact, it's the writing -- sorry, the absence of it -- that makes matters worse. The beginning is good, the middle falters and the end is exasperating.
Final word? This one's far from being meetha. It's a khatta experience!
Struggling road construction contractor Sachin Tichkule (Akshay Kumar) is doomed. There is no chance that his dreams will ever come true, simply because he has no money to bribe. To make matters worse, the new Municipal Commissioner turns out to be his ex girl friend (Trisha), who now hates him.
The film reveals the extent of corruption and bribery rampant in the system and the ingenious means you have to adopt if you want to survive in today's times.
Khatta Meetha attempts to say a lot many things in those 2.40 hours. Oh yes, its running time is a problem, more so because the narrative lacks the power to keep you hooked to the proceedings. Okay, coming back to what I wanted to say, Khatta Meetha is more of a collage of isolated incidents encompassed in those 2.40 hours. The collapse of the bridge, the consequent murder of Tinnu Anand, the constant bickering in the house, the tu-tu-main-main between Akshay and Trisha, the sister's track, the corrupt netas and government babus, the payment issue of workers... several sequences are a repeat of what's you watched barely minutes ago or an hour ago.
While the romantic track is the weakest link (half-baked; the songs are forced down your throats, without valid situations whatsoever), the flashback portions, depicting Akshay Kumar as a college student (!!!), is just hard to digest. Even the end is worn out and doesn't give the feel of contentment that one expects at the conclusion of a film.
Priyadarshan's handling of the comic sequences is noteworthy, especially in the first half of the film. The repair-and-paint sequence at Asrani's mansion is sure to bring the house down. Ditto for the conversation that Asrani has with multiple people, in person and also on phone. Also, the road roller sequence is a laugh-riot and prior to that Johnny Lever's sequence of repairing the road roller is truly funny. But a few isolated sequences aren't enough. The veteran storyteller ought to know the importance of a watertight screenplay by now.
Cinematographer V. Manikandan's lens captures the exteriors with flourish. Pritam's music is easy on the ears and at least two songs are extremely popular as well, but the placement of songs in the narrative acts as a roadblock. Dialogues are funny at times, especially the one-liners.
Akshay Kumar plays the common man with gusto. He looks his part and more importantly, not once do you feel that he's repeating himself. However, he goes over the top in a few sequences. Trisha carries the Plain Jane look well, but fails as an actress. The fiery attitude, so vital when you're enacting the role of the Municipal Commissioner, is missing. Rajpal Yadav is in terrific form yet again. What a splendid actor!
Urvashi Sharma is awkward. Makrand Deshpande is wasted. Tinnu Anand is hardly there. Even Aroona Irani is sidelined. Kulbhushan Kharbanda is first-rate. Asrani is excellent. Manoj Joshi screams so much. Ditto for Neeraj Vora. Milind Gunaji is okay. The actor playing the role of Urvashi's husband does a good job.
On the whole, Khatta Meetha is a major letdown from the accomplished director. It's not a full-blown comedy. It's not a full-scale satire either. Hugely disappointing!
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Trisha Krishnan, Makrand Deshpande, Rajpal Yadav, Neeraj Vora, Milind Gunaji, Asrani