Ever had this happen to you? A dear old friend you haven't met in a long time and whom you remember as having a wicked sense of humor is in town. You set off to meet him, excited at the prospect of reliving old times and, most of all, laughing over the hilarious jokes only he can come up with.
You get there and the first thing that strikes you is that your usually spiffy friend looks kinda dowdy and well, like a slob. But never mind, he's probably just having a bad day. He's still got that great big smile one his face, and his manners are still charming, but the jokes, oh god the jokes.
This cannot be the same guy who once made you laugh so hard, you had to hit him to stop so you could resume breathing. This cannot be the same guy who told jokes so potent that you sometimes burst out laughing in a crowded elevator, and got strange looks from people. This cannot be the same guy who blended satire and slapstick with a comic precision that had you marveling at his genius even as you giggled helplessly. But it is the same guy. Kundan Shah once made a movie called Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. If you can forget that, by all means, watch his latest disaster, Ek Se Badhkar Ek.
The plot is rabidly convoluted, but you can excuse that like you'd excuse an episode of Three's Company for being silly - it's almost a prerequisite. The characters and their circumstances are old-fashioned, drawn with an eye for the ridiculous rather than the cosmopolitan. There's no flashing of cleavage or navel, and no epithets more deadly than the Jumpin' Jehosophat kind. You might say this is a clean, wholesome film, but in reality it's as painful and as obscenely unamusing as a laugh track on a loop.
A filthy rich industrialist dies and leaves his Rs. 400-crore fortune to his gardener's son, Rahul (Suniel Huh? Shetty). Thanks to a strange misprint in the will, Rahul can only get his paws on the money once he's established himself as the mafia leader of Mumbai. His friend in need and general provider of sidekicks is his lawyer Anand, played by Shekar Suman, whose shirts are even louder than his jokes. Add to this gassy mixture, a bumbling cop Kanchan (Raveena Tandon), a secret service agent Tracy (Isha Koppikar), a greasy don Jindaal (Gulshan Grover), a stupefied nuclear scientist Krishnamurthy (Makrand Deshpande), and a Pakistani conspiracy of international disinterest.
The plot is dauntlessly obedient to Murphy's Law (the same one that made you buy tickets to this film), and every comic possibility in Clicheland is bled dry. Rahul and Kanchan join forces to catch Jindaal, who in turn gets in with the Pakistanis to kidnap Krishnamurthy, who in turn has two clones, one on each side of the border. Punches are thrown, songs are danced, and identities are mistaken. In the middle of all that shouting, running around and pulling of funny faces, there are a couple of solitary moments that will cause you to laugh. Then the inanity piles back on, strangling that smile, gagging that giggle and choking that chortle.
Do yourself a favor and stay at home. A pal's a pal, but a migraine is for life.