Comedy is serious business, said Jerry Lewis before he did his famous back flip and landed on a much-worn ass. And it is too. It helps if you have the right lines, the right actors and just the right measure of insanity (two large scoops, hold the dribble). It helps if the audience is ready and willing to bust a gut. It helps if you've set a happy precedent
. But more than anything else it helps at the end of a long-winded joke, to remember the friggin' punchline.
By the second half of the film Hulchul has no clue what it was trying to accomplish. It starts off with the noblest of intentions, the promise of explosive funniness and then it gets really caught up in a family drama that you don't give a flying fig about. It goes from toilet humor to melodrama in the courtyard. From Ganpath Rai to Hamare kul ki maryadha
. From Arshad Warsi in shorts to Arbaaz Khan in a see-through dhoti. Why are you here, again?
So, like this: There are two feuding families, each with large quantities of children. The first family lives in Angaarchand's Bachelor Pad With Attached Cattle-Shed. Angaarchand (Amrish Puri) is a man of a few words, all of which are spoken at vein-bursting decibels levels and accompanied with flying spit. He hates all women and insists that his four sons remain unwed. Two remain true to their father's wishes, one falls in love and one endorses his views on celibacy by getting married and having two children.
The other family is run by a shrill, scheming matriarch, Lakshmidevi (Lakshmi), who has two main passions: she wants Angaarchand's head on a plate, and she wants this plate placed on the railway tracks. In all other respects, she's a sweet old lady.
Due to the highly jobless nature of the two clans, neither has any peace of mind. So when Laksmidevi's granddaughter, Anjali's (Kareena Kapoor's) wedding is called off thanks to the famous feud, she decides to get revenge from Angaarchand's youngest son, Jai (Akshaye Khanna).
Much to nobody's surprise, the two fall in love helped along with dangerous advice from Akshaye's friend, Lucky (Arshad Warsi). The only hilarious portions of the film are delivered by Warsi, who more than lives up to high post-Munnabhai
expectations. Thanks to him, Akshaye Khanna, and Paresh Rawal to some extent, the first half is enjoyable and really funny in bits.
Hulchul does have some excellent lines, just thrown around and discovered with delight by the audience. But the movie really loses focus when the drama takes over. Suddenly the plot goes and gets serious on you, which it has no business doing. Soon there's just a lot of men tearing about looking furious and yelling threats at each other. Yawn. During the climax there's a really tedious attempt at returning to the comedy using some old gags and older lines. Yawner. Then hearts change miraculously for the better and love prevails. Yawnest.
With actors like Paresh Rawal, Amrish Puri, Jackie Shroff, Suniel Shetty and Manoj
Joshi, Priyandarshan could have done so much better. The whole thing puts us in the mind of that old riddle. What do you call a boomerang that doesn't work? A stick. What do you call a joke that doesn't work? For this week at least, it goes by the name of Hulchul.