Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a one-trick pony. The film has a single plot point and it gets tiring pretty soon. The energy of two of its main cast members eventually sees it through. But it’s still tough to believe that the man behind it, Priyadarshan, is the same director who made the complexly funny Hera Pheri and Hulchul, let alone classics like Chitram and Kilukkam.

Akshay Kumar plays a Casanova who, with a fiancé at home, hooks up with three other air hostesses. Their busy flight schedules allow him to juggle his time with them. His friend/colleague John Abraham helps him keep up his playboy ways but he wants a piece of the action too and never stops trying.

Stretch the first 15 minutes of Kamal’s Panchathanthiram to an entire movie and you get Garam Masala. The ladies even have the same profession in both movies! Akshay evading four women is all the entire film is about. It’s only the locations that change. So the film is simply a series of sequences where Akshay manages to handle the women at the airport, at home, at a cafeteria and so on. I sat through the entire first half waiting for the story to take come kind of a turn before resigning myself to the fact that that was it.

Once that kind of resignation sets in, the movie has a chance to seem funnier. Understandably, the two elements that make up all the comedy in the film are a woman showing up unexpectedly and Akshay trying to handle it. Some of them no doubt involve some nice choreography and timing and tickle our funny bones. The little things that are done in the house to keep up the charade are funny and Paresh Rawal's exasperation at the completely different tastes of the women leads to some good laughs.

But many sequences, especially any that take place in Akshay's multi-room house, are staged in a completely ridiculous way. We are frequently expected to believe that Akshay and one of the women can carry on a loud conversation in the living room with the woman inside an adjoining room completely oblivious of this until the moment she walks out of the room – which ofcourse is the exact same moment the other woman decides to return to her room. The women would have to be both stupid and stone deaf for these to work.

Akshay’s developed into an actor with a good knack of comedy. He has an expressive face, wacky body language and good comic timing and puts them to good use as he keeps up his game. Paresh Rawal goes the deadpan route, eliciting laughs with his growling face and serious intonation. John Abraham still has a little way to go before can do comedy with the kind of abandon Akshay has developed. The women are little more than props for the actors to play off of and it shows in the selection of actresses. The song sequences seem more like excuses for showing women parading around in bikinis. Et tu Priyadarshan?!

Not much spice in this masala.


At 7:30 PM, Blogger TamilPonnu said...

thanks for the review.. How's the music?

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Quill said...

Bala -

New comer here .Like your book reviews !

Try Archer's latest - "False Impression "

At 11:37 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

tamilponnu, haven't heard the songs separately. not too impressive when i saw them in the film.

quill, thanx :) JA used to be one of my fav authors but wasnt too impressed with his last few. but read your high praise for this. will add it to my to-read list!

At 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

its actually a remake of malayalam movie
Boeing Boeing (which i believe was inspired by an English movie) , with Mohanlal and Mukesh.That one was really good , with both the guys doing a fantastic job.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i havent seen this one (i am extremely choosy when it comes to "saettu" cinema!) as yet...but talking of panchathanthiram, i dont think anyone can conjure up impersonation situations quite as well as "Crazy" Mohan...he is in a different league altogether...remember Vasanth telling me that it was producer Panchu Arunachalam who suggested that Mohan pen the dialogs for the comedy scenes of "Poovelaam Kaetupaar." and boy, how well that worked!

The excuses that he comes up with are just really hilarious...the "convert aaytaan" scenes in Avvai Shanmugi, the "enakku fire-engine oattardhu Hobby!" excuse in MMKR, the 'kaiyyila brush vechurukaaru' line (who else can think of comparing tooth brush to a painter's!!) in Kadhala Kadhala all point to a reallllly crazyy guy in him!

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Filbert said...


You somehow find good things to say about any movie and no wonder you did that for Garam Masala :) IMHO, Paresh Rawal was the only saving grace in the movie. I found it hard to sit through the movie but was surprised to find this movie in the Best films of 2005 list of Rediff.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, i saw the dvd of 'boing boing' recently with the heroes in many makeups. didnt think this was a remake of that.

ram, rightly said. i am a huge fan of crazy and think he has an incredible sense of humor. amazing how he finds new humor in phrases we've been using all our life. for me that was most in evidence in PKS. 'vilakku ethitanga', 'keep left', etc. amazing...

filbert, and its not just rediff. a couple of my friends here also liked it. i was surely surprised...

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Narayanan Venkitu said...

I watched this film on DVD last week and couldn't stop it.!! Fantastic film I thought.!! Loved the songs, the sets, the colors, the comedy and the story line too.!!

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

narayanan, not too surprised since my friends thot so too :)

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Everybody

The Block buster Hindi Film "Garam Masala" is a re amke of MALAYALAM movie "Boing Boing". Bharath Mohanlal played the role of Akshay Kumar in that film.

Reffer all thase link before just giving blind conclusions..

"A remake of Priyan's own Malayalam movie Boeing Boeing, that was directed by him two decades back in 1985, it is a modern day adaptation of the flick that was in turn inspired by the 1960s' Tony Curtis comedy about a man who keeps various air hostesses dangling in his life."

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome review yet again! THis is a film I have a great weakness for, Akshay Kumar gives one of the most spontaneous performances I have seen in a long time. The actor has been going from strength to strength and no doubt deserves his title of "King Kumar"!


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