Friday, November 25, 2011

Desi Boyz (देसी बोयज़)

Strapping Jocks

I would like to pride myself at watching enough Bollywood films to have witnessed the pairing up of most of its stars, but this marks the first I've seen with Akshay Kumar and John Abraham put together as two best buddies whose foreigner status in a foreign land meant the execution of some protectionist strategies when companies are forced to take a cold hard look at their expenses given the downturn of the economy. They get the boot in their respective jobs, with Jerry Patel (Kumar) probably suffering the least impact since he's leaching off his best friend Nick Mathur (Abraham), an investment banker who had seen better days himself.

So when all the doors get slammed in your face, either being too qualified, or under qualified for a job, the duo get thrown a lifeline through the enigmatic head (Sanjay Dutt) of a worldwide franchise of male escort agency called Desi Boyz, who is of the impression that these two men at wits end would be a welcome addition to his stable, since they have chest, biceps and size (if you know what that means). Similar to the Full Monty, but expectedly not as naughty by international standards, their job is to spread happiness amongst the female clientele, with good money at stake if only they would bury their conscience, and be professional about it.

Most of the song and dance routines worked when it called for the duo to be paired up, with both Akshay and John sharing incredible chemistry as their new alter egos Rocco and Hunter, strutting and flaunting their assets, providing everyone a good time, the audience included, with director Rohit Dhawan knowing just the right camera angles to capture the duo at their hunky best. Akshay Kumar plays his role with that mischievous glint in the eye, having to persuade his best friend Nick to join him in just making a living, and the house is brought down during their joint-introduction as the newest, hottest male escorts in town.

In what would be keeping up of appearances, being fearful of their reputations and worrying that ivy league degrees would be going down the drain in his new profession, which is something that would echo loudly in anyone here who is thinking of such a niche provision of pleasure, the first half introduces very fleetingly what would be taking on the bulk of the screen time after the interval. Nick had just proposed to materialistic girlfriend Radhika (Deepika Padukone) who wants the world for her wedding and honeymoon, and is kept in the dark of her boyfriend's financial predicament, while Jerry has to battle the state in order to be the legal guardian of his young nephew Veer (Shraman Jain), failing which Veer would have to go to a foster home.

What worked wonders in the first half are the joint efforts of both stars when they grace the screen and feed off each other's infectious energy, with the narrative moving at a very snappy pace. The bulk of the kinkiness seen in the trailer all belong to the first half of the film, making you contemplate just exactly how much more could the envelope be pushed. Sadly it isn't much, but everything that suggests raunchiness in the film, were confined to the portion before the interval, after which it became a lot more serious with the duo off their separate ways to pursue their respective objectives and goals in life.

Rohit Dhawan, Renuka Kunzru and Milap Zaveri who wrote the screenplay and dialogues knew just what would work, and these got delivered by a very able supporting cast, from Dutt and ranging to a surprise guest whom I will keep under wraps lest it would mar anyone else's viewing experience. But their second half somewhat contradicted the team play at work here, and having the leads focused on their own narrative tracks, turned the film completely over its head. Out the window was everything associated with fun from their male escorting exploits, and what got introduced were very plain narratives such as Nick's fervent pursuit of his lady love Radhika who cannot come to terms with so many paying females leering at her fiance, and Jerry off to school to complete his degree, get a well paying job to boost his adoption chances of Veer, and romancing his ex-classmate turned lecturer Tanya (Chitrangda Singh).

First time director Rohit Dhawan employed the breaking of the fourth wall by the lead characters very liberally, allowing them to engage with audiences directly, then curiously this become nothing more than a footnote in the film as the later stages junked this for a more conventional approach. While Deepika and Akshay had been paired together for a couple of films already such as Chandni Chowk to China and House Full, this film marks her first romantic pairing with John Abraham, and while they look good together on screen, Radhika the character was perhaps the weakest in Deepika's filmography to date. Akshay Kumar got the second half of the film to thank for in including a romantic lead for his character, and throughout you can't help but to feel the competitive vibes between both Akshay and John, and perhaps rightly so whenever you put two hunky guys together in the same film.

As a comedy, Desi Boyz worked in the first half when the stars hammed it up as male escorts, but unfortunately this did not manage to pan out for the entire film when it was decided a change in direction was required. Still, amongst the comedies seen of late from Bollywood, Desi Boyz has that little bit of oomph to tickle one's funny bone especially with its bevy of stars not taking everything too seriously.

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