3 Stars. Hungama (Chaos). With Aftab Shivdasani, Akshaye Khanna, Rimi Singh, Paresh Rawal and Shoma Anand.
At the core of director Priyadarshan’s delightful comedy Hungama (Chaos) is a story about deception, lies and pretence. I have always been wary of comedy in Indian films as it tends to go completely over the top and detracts from the pace of the film. So to put myself through three hours of an out and out Indian comedy film was a major leap of faith. However, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the film thoroughly.

The film styles itself like a Shakesperian comedy of errors replete with mistaken identities, suspicion, false accusations and certain characters lierally being led up the garden path. I’m not going to even attempt to explain the story which has no less than ten main characters. In fact the director is on record as saying the film doesn’t have a definite storyline but that the script revolves around the comedic situations the characters find themselves in. The only thing that works against the film is that it is too long. This is a result of stretching out certain scenes and adding song sequences which makes the second half of the film drag on unecessarily.

There are many scenes which will have you in stitches. The pick for me was the man who is mistakenly thought to be electrocuting himself and the “fight” between Aftab Shivdasani and Akshaye Khanna. Just thinking about it now makes me laugh out loud.

The acting of the entire cast is excellent, but the standout performances come from Paresh Rawal and Shoma Anand. They play husband and wife respectively and much of the comedy takes place at their home. Anand, a Bollywood heroine in the 70’s, makes a welcome return to the big screen and displays a deft talent for comedy. Newcomer Rimi Singh deserves a mention for aquitting herself well in a difficult role.

The music by prolific Bollywood composers Nadeem-Shravan is melodious and the director has used two of the actual playback singers, Shaan and Sadhana Sargam, in the film showing them singing in a party sequence. Some of the songs were filmed in Malaysia and while the locations are suitably exotic, these scenes add nothing to the film as a whole.

It is a bold move by the director to release a comedy in this troubled period for Bollywood. Many formula films have failed at the box-office and he certainly is taking a chance. To his credit he has made a film that is original and deserves to be a box-office success.

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    Mehboob Bawa is an actor, producer, writer, voice artiste and Bollywood specialist. He covers the Bollywood scene for The Cape Times, the morning daily newspaper in Cape Town, South Africa.


    July 2011