Priyadarshan surely would rank as India’s most prolific film director. In the last five years, he has churned out on an average, around four movies per year. His best creations are in Malayalam and without exception, all his efforts in Bollywood have been remakes of his earlier successful ventures in Malayalam. But in the process of adaptation to Hindi, the very scenes which feel excellent in the original fail to generate a similar impact and thus falter on the screen. Despite this disadvantage, a few of his creations in Hindi (like Hera Pheri, for example) have had an extremely enjoyable feel about them and this has been added substantially by the presence of actors like Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal who have a great comic timing.
Of late, Priyadarshan’s movies have begun to appear repetitive with little or no original sequences and therefore have come across as nothing more than a number of short skits stitched together in a hurry. His films always involve several characters, most of whom try to register their presence by their loudness or supposedly funny antics. The end result is that one likes the movie in parts and hates it in other parts. It is perhaps this notion which has driven the titling of his latest movie as KHATTA MEETHA. There is no other reason why this movie should have been titled thus: in fact if there were to be an award for the most inappropriate title, this would certainly be one of the chief contenders.
KHATTA MEETHA is a movie woven around corruption in public places (very much like the theme of the extremely well-done Shyam Benegal’s WELL DONE ABBA), but chooses to focus more on the comic relief provided by the script and some excellent one-liners, delivered by Akshay Kumar. Akhshay Kumar, as Sachin Tichkule seems to revel in playing the loser boy roles with a comic panache. Although the hero and heroine (played by debutante Trisha Krishnan, a well known South Indian film actress), come together in the end, there are more scenes of their constantly gnawing at each other than romancing. Thus, the inane romantic scenes have been restricted to three customary song and dance sequences and the movie progresses fairly briskly leaving the audience little time to think of the glaring incredulities. Trisha’s accent and delivery both indicate that she may not meet with success in Bollywood: it is better she sticks to her roots.
Pritam’s music fits the bill demanded of such a movie and every character gets to participate in loud histrionics: Rajpal Yadav gets the maximum footage in a screenplay which has several other comedians like Johnny Lever and Asrani trying to keep up the tempo. Despite all these efforts, KHATTA MEETHA remains at best as a time-pass movie. But to be fair to the director, it does not have any pretensions of being a great classic or a serious vehicle to air the message of corruption in public places. It is far, far removed from the eighties classic of the same title made by Basu Chatterjee.