Nautanki Saala directed by Rohan Sippy holds a lot of promises with the current next-big-thing Ayushmann Khurana taking on the titular role of the theater actor/director. The movie has all the elements that made Ayushmann’s last movie such a massive success, him in a leading role (that of a Delhi dude), a relative unknown but very pretty co-star (times 3 this time around well) , him lending his vocals to some very good songs. What could go wrong? Nothing but just a tiny almost insignificant component that set Vicky Donor apart – this movie suffers because there isn’t Juhi Chaturvedi doing the script/screenplay or someone just as competent.
The story starts off with Ayushmann coming across Kunal Roy Kapoor (Mandar Lele) while the latter is trying to commit suicide, being the Good Samaritan that he is Ram Parmar a.k.a RP (Ayushmann) brings Mandar home. This reminded me distinctly of that Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. Starrer Due Date. And that comparison does not bode well for any movie.
The cast includes Shulbha Arya as the Grandmother to Mandar and she does her best to ham out the 1 minute that she is on the screen, it includes new comer Pooja Salvi as Mandar’s object of affection and one of the angles of the pentagon ( Chitra-Ram-Nandini-Mandar-Loli) and is the definition of the bimbo. She supposedly is this modern woman who owns her own business and lives in a posh society by herself but goes from loving the looser Mandar to getting ready to get married to the cheat Loli to falling for the ruffian charms of a stray customer who walks in to make a purchase. Gaelyne Mendonca is passable and does not irritate too much. Evelyn Sharma as the Seetha in the Stage show RPis acting and directing is the prettiest of the lots and a part which has barely couple of spoken words does that job effectively. The only character of any merit was Sanjeev Bhatt as Chandra the producer – sure he is ham but then atleast he doesn’t pretend to be anything else and the way he commits to his character enables some genuine funny moments.
Kunal Roy Kapoor is the biggest reason why I found the movie to be almost unbearable. I disliked him in delhi belly and here he does nothing to change my mind. His lethargic loser portrayal of Mandar also suffers because the only glimpse into his psyche or the reason why he is who is a is via Shulbha Arya mouthing “jo kuch nahi kar sakta vo actor hi ban sakta hai”. That one line is supposed to make up for all the strange behavior being displayed by him. He is quickly becoming the Zach Galifianakis for me .
The music is good with Ayushmann delivering another hit. But overall the music is a distraction and hinders the story progression it does make for a good listen on a long drive.
What bothered me the most was the obvious disconnect between the different characters, their motivations for whatever actions they took and the reliance of the script on coincidences. There was a Ramayan play to be used as subtext and if it was then it was lost on me. What I did like was the way the movie was shot, the high production values and the elaborate set decoration.
My advice? Skip it – pop in Vicky Donor one more time as it is way more entertaining than this insipid fare. Ayushmann I had higher expectations.