Shah Rukh Khan was first choice for the lead role in this film. Thank God that didn't work out. This movie belongs entirely to Dutt, his loony grin, killer bod and paan-stained colloquialism. He is Mumbai at its most irreverent, trash-mouthed and irrepressible.
Munna Bhai (our man with the biceps) comes to the big city with his ma ka aashirwaad and VIP baniyaan, to become a doctor. But he finds the underworld a more lucrative playing field (of course, not all doctors would agree). So his parents are back home proud of their son who runs a charity hospital, while the truth actually is that the son is single-handedly providing enough business for all the hospitals in his ilaaka. Oh well, things don't always turn out as we plan.
Bhai's dad (played by real life dad Sunil Dutt, who exudes a quiet dignity much like the Big B) comes a-visiting to the city to watch his son do his noble work. Unfortunately, he is not impressed with the hafta king and his mile-long police record, not to mention his complete lack of any medical powers, so he does the absolute worst lowdown thing any dad in a Hindi movie could do - he takes off his pagadi and cries. This produces the desired result, and our hero feels like the scummiest scum in scumland.
So Munna Bhai decides to become a doctor, in a fit of extreme guilt, righteousness, and it must be said, some horniness (he's hoping to get hitched to his father's friend's daughter who is also a doctor). After passing his entrance exam with a great score he goes off to study docotor-ing at a very prestigious and high-profile college (named IIMS, by some complete coincidence, I'm sure).
Assisted by his cronies, prime amongst whom is Circuit played superbly by Arshad Warsi, Munna Bhai turns over a new leaf and settles down to college life. Yes, and wouldn't that make for a thumping blockbuster? Perhaps it would, but that's not what this film's about.
His Tapori-ness doesn't tone it down a shade at medical school, it only notches it up a couple. He brings his own cadaver to anatomy class, hugs everyone in sight, sings and dances in the emergency ward, and spews compassion much like the desi Patch Adams he's undoubtedly trying to be.
And like in the original film, the dean of this medical school is also a giant pain in the gluteus maximas. Played by the versatile Boman Irani, the dean is unhappy with Munna Bhai on three counts: firstly because he hates his guts, secondly because he wanted to marry the dean's daughter, and thirdly because he hates his guts.
The daughter (a mildly irritating Gracy Singh who insists on smiling for no apparent reason) seems to think of Munna Bhai as an affable fool, till he saves a couple of lives. Then after the mandatory song with the pigeons and chiffon dupatta flying, she falls for him like a ton of bricks.
And so does everybody in the college and its hospital. So when the dean finally manages to prove that he's been cheating on his exams, nobody believes him, and Munna Bhai is tried in a public court. Of course, the heroine makes an impassioned speech laced with sarcasm for her dad; of course, the paralysed man in a wheelchair for 12 years regains use of his limbs; and of course, Munna Bhai is vindicated.
There's not much that's original in the script, but this isn't really a crime in Bollywood. The movie is still a barrel of laughs - it's humor might surprise you. The characters are well-sketched, and the camera work is neat. And the songs are also quite hummable.
But the real reason Munna Bhai MBBS will do well is because it takes time-pass to a whole new level. And it's worth the ride.