Film: 'Buddha Mar Gaya'; Starring: Anupam Kher, Om Puri, Paresh Rawal, Mahbanoo Mody-Kortwal, Rakhi Sawant; Directed by Rahul Rawail
Decades ago Kundan Shah killed us with laughter in his 'Jane Bhi Do Yaaron', a comedy about a corpse that needed curious manoeuvring.
To his credit, Anupam Kher plays an inert deathly-still corpse in Rawail's crude film as convincingly as Satish Shah did in Kundan Shah's film.
But the catch line 'You'll Die Laughing' is not really applicable in 'Buddha Mar Gaya'; one just dies of shock and shame watching the director of such modern classics as 'Arjun' and 'Dacait' plunge to unimaginable depths of infantile crudity.
The ensemble cast of this comedy is devoid of all motivation except a searing self-serving greed. Every member of this multi-millionaire family scoffs at all moral values and sniggers at finer sentiments.
In a sense Rawail's family's complete lack of innocence is in direct and devilish contrast to the family Sooraj Barjatya gave us in 'Hum Aapke Hain Koun' (1994) and 'Hum Saath Saath Hain' (1999).
Cunning, wicked, evil and vulgar, the family in Rahul Rawail's film spoofs the aesthetics of the archetypal Family Drama with a lingering appetite for crudity. It's hard for us to share their enthusiasm for the low life, especially when the dead man's granddaughter performs an item song in front of the corpse-pretending-to-be-alive.
The opera of the grotesque opens with the death of a tycoon (Kher) who dies while making love to the indefatigably saucy Rakhi Sawant. She eventually seduces and kills several other men from Vinay ('Bheja Fry') Pathak to Prem ('Mera Naam Hai Prem') Chopra.
What are all these talented actors doing in this over-heated over-cooked comedy of a disintegrated generation?
'What a glorious death. He came and went simultaneously,' says the dead man's grandson who finally turns out to be the dead man's son sired by the (now-dead) old man in lieu of his gay son (Mukesh Tiwari), who is secretly having an affair with the family god man (Om Puri), who's also doing it to the dead man's plump sister (Mohbanoo Mody-Kotwal).
By the time the cacophonic bump-and-grind satire creaks to a halt, you are looking at a film that makes a fashion statement out of anarchic iconoclasm.
By simply disregarding and rubbishing social institutions like the family nucleus and the rituals of death and mortality (Ranveer Shorey plays a cremation-ground broker who sells bodies to the 'needy'), 'Buddha Mar Gaya' attempts to give a tantalising twist to the school of stripped-down satire.
But sorry, it isn't comic or cool to cut up the patriarch into pieces, literally.
This could be elected the one 'comedy' that tells you how not make a supposedly funny film. First of all, please don't convert the joint family into a circus of irreverence... not if irreverence means anything from alternate sexuality to incestuous intentions.