Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Ram Kapoor,
Tamannah Bhatia, Bipasha Basu, Esha Gupta
Direction: Sajid Khan
Genre: Comedy
Duration: 2 hours 39 minutes

Story: Ashok and Kumar are fraudulently declared mad by evil Kans mama – what happens when two more Ashoks, Kumars and mamas show up? Review: A lovely line in Humshakals – “Why’re you making it so aaabvious?” – exemplifies the film. Humshakals features an odd balance between brilliant jokes, followed by a pajama party of PJs. Ashok (Khan) is a London billionaire whose day job is “business umpire sambhalna” but who does cringe-worthy comedy which even his buddy Kumar (Deshmukh) can’t bear.

Fortunately, TV star Shanaya (Bhatia) finds Ashok funny which has him smiling until his wicked mama Kunwar Amar Nath Singh – aka Kans – slips him a ‘Mad – mind-altering drug’, making Ashok and Kumar go doggy-style, landing up in ‘Lord Cray G. Mental Asylum’.

As Dr. Shivani (Gupta) and manager Mishti (Basu) aid them, Kans mama thinks he’s won the corporate board game – but Ashok and Kumar discover helpful humshakals. What happens when mamaji’s humshakal also arrives? With its convoluted plot, Humshakals needs terrific acting – and the actors deliver. As three variants of Ashok – original, insane, effeminate, plus a girl role too – Saif runs away with Humshakals.

Khan surprises with his flair for twinkling-eyed, giggle-voiced, mincing-step comedy, delivering lines like “Shet up, scoundrel!” with liquid ease. As three-Kumar, Deshmukh’s fun, doing a memorable Dilip Kumar over, well, vodka ke paranthe. Playing Kans mama, Ram Kapoor performs with velveteen wickedness, even shaking a waxy leg as a ‘kali-flower’ on a beach.

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The boys have a ball but the ladies are as wasted as icing sugar on a layered cake. Meanwhile, with its multi-story story, Humshakals must be tightly told. Here, the film wobbles, its first half distractedly meandering with mindless sequences involving comas, electric shocks and Satish Shah as a Hitler-worshipping warden, tormenting patients by showing them Himmatwala.

The second half gets tauter and funnier with an uncommon House of Commons involving the three duos, Prince Charles and Chunky Pandey as a drug lord. This tootie-fruity climax is clearly Sajid Khan’s revenge for empire – the cut-rate Prince Charles barks, “Kyah baath kar rahe ho?” and bombs tick. The comedy could’ve tickled had the plot not faltered again, throwing in a dull diversion involving dwarves.

The result’s like a minty chewing gum that’s been stretched too long. Shedding 30 minutes and some jaded gags would make Humshakals consistent fun – now, you laugh but also frequently go, ho-hum.

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