Film: 'Heyy Babyy'; Cast: Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Fardeen Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Boman Irani; Director: Sajid Khan; Ratings: ***
When it doesn't try to be funny, it's funny. And when it's not funny, it's quite heart-warmingly touching... honestly!
Picture this. A TV anchor, who has made a career out of spoofing, satirizing and savaging Hindi film conventions, decides to direct a film where three certifiable studs - check out their huffing harem of haseenas of every hue and colour preferably blonde - wake up one morning to find a baby on their doorstep.
No, the babe is not Vidya Balan. She comes much later. The baby is an eight-month-old girl, eventually christened Angel, who does more pooh than we can go pooh-pooh over the wild improbability of Leonard Nimoy's 'Three Men & A Baby' working in a desi context.
But Sajid Khan's comic timing in telling the story of the taming of three men sees the tale through. You can't fault the narrative. Sajid gives the trio a huge leeway to raise laughter on a self-consciously casual set representing a bachelor pad.
The swanky pad comes alive to the sound of a little girl bawling her head off, eating, chuckling and of course, doing stinky-pooh. The rapid fire editing of Rameshwar S. Bhagat creates a series of immensely watch-able vignettes taken from the life of a trio of over-libidinous slobs.
The reformation, though expected, still takes you by surprise. The crisis in the baby's life, she nearly dies when left in the rain by her callous surrogate-dads, culminates in the trio falling at her feet as a beam of light pierces the darkened room to denote their new enlightened spirit.
The Muslim hero (Fardeen Khan) even falls to his feet to recite his prayers.
Manmohan Desai must be chuckling in heaven. You know Sajid is out to get your attention by hook or by crook. Pulling out all stops he designs an entertainer that isn't shy of letting all the filmy emotions hang out. They, the emotions, often do. Hang out, I mean.
The treatment of the theme is brutally schmaltzy and savagely satirical. You can't miss the sharp screechy turns that the debutant director takes as he takes his boisterous threesome from smelly socks to smellier napkins and sensitive fatherhood.
Yes, the conversion is more sudden and drastic than a bunch of rowdy tribal suddenly converting their religion for Church benefits. And really, the three, especially Riteish Deshmukh, occasionally over-do the fatherly concern.
But the swift one-liners and irreverent but innocuous gender jokes in the first-half are delightfully done. At interval point Sajid brings in the lady of the show.
Vidya plays a hot-tempered, impulsive, capricious and stubborn single mother with a dash of uncharacteristic zest. She loses her delicate edges to sustain a portion of the brittle film that requires a whole deal of sustenance. In this, Vidya's screen dad is of tremendous help.
While one can think of many truly funny moments in the first-half, the second-half has just one interlude that's positively hilarious. It has Fardeen doing a take-off on Amitabh Bachchan in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Chupke Chupke', driving Vidya and her dad at snail's pace while the other two heroes swish by in various get-ups.
Here, more than anyone else, Boman Irani's expressions from the back seat of the snail-paced car are to die for.
Luckily, the film's pace is more svelte than snail's. But no, you don't 'die' laughing in 'Heyy Babyy'.
The flip-flop of talcum tenderness and boys' boorishness keeps you watching most of the time, though the second-half does get painfully tedious with portions sticking out like 'snore' thumbs.
But you really can't fault Sajid's directorial debut for its joie de vivre. The swirl of sleek satire and the twirl of mini-skirted attire ensure that the audience never tire of this ticklish tale of three incorrigible bachelors, a headstrong babe, a charming baby and plenty of glam-decked fast-paced gup-slurp.