Movie Review- Nautanki Saala!

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Pooja Salvi, Gaelyn Mendonca, Evelyn Sharma
Direction: Rohan Sippy
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Duration: 2 hours 10 minutes

STORY: All the world’s a stage for theatre actor Ram Parmar. In an effort to resurrect his chronic-depressive friend’s life, he upstages a real-life drama; to find himself enacting a part he’d never imagined.

MOVIE REVIEW: Picture this: Ram dons Raavan’s avatar. Sita zips off on a scooty with ‘beary’ ‘good friend’ Hanuman. Laksman is out of sight. And a brand new Ramleela plays out; where even the mighty Raavan (with all ten heads) can’t crack his part. Gods must be crazy, alright, in this kalyug ki Ramayan. More comedy, less chastity. More drama, less dagabaaz. The stage is set and it’s showtime folks. All starting one night when theater actor/director Ram Parmar (Ayushmann) saves a lonely soul, Mandar Lele (Kunaal) from committing suicide.

In a godly act, Ram takes on the sole responsibility (no divine intervention, please) of giving loser Lele a new lease of life. Ram trains him to enact (Lord) Ram in his play Raavan-Leela, while he also dramatizes a series of acts to reunite Lele with his estranged lovergal, Nandini (Pooja). Romeo-Juliet RIP! There’s more drama coming up. All hell (or is it heaven) break loose in Ram’s life when he crosses the lakshman rekha.

The acts get mixed up, roles reversed; ironically his self-created Ram katha goes kaput, leading to a comedy of errors of ‘epic’ proportions. Call it Act of God if you wish! (Hey, Ram!) It’s time for curtain calls. Thou art Ayushmann, take a bow. This natural nautanki hits target once again. He role-plays with perfect comic timing and superb confidence. Ayushmann bhava! Kunaal is also effortlessly excellent, adding drama and hilarity. What’s best is the boys pitch the dramedy without much melodrama. Applause! Pooja looks too unrehearsed to get her act right and Gaelyn (as Ram’s girlfriend) manages to breeze through. Rohan Sippy plays his part well too. The story is refreshing; the theater-like treatment (sets, props, costumes) is dramatically different.

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The background score blends smoothly and the quirky humour comes alive in the irony of situations and performances (unlike the monotony of hammy slapstick). The second half slows down with predictable acts, and Ram’s godliness is too unreal, yet making you guffaw like Raavan on steroids.

This is no Shakespearean act, but there’s enough drama, demons and devtaas to rival our desi phantoms of the operas.

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