Film: 'Welcome'; Cast: Feroz Khan, Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Paresh Rawal; Writer and Director: Anees Bazmi; Rating: *
The most interesting part of this splintered comedy is Mallika Sherawat's con woman character, whose agreeable coquettishness is applied to the love lives of two goofy gangsters played by Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor, both on the look-out for a suitably noble bridegroom for their pretty sister Katrina Kaif.
Between the two leading ladies, Mallika definitely has the spicier, livelier and more animated role. Mock-romancing Kapoor and Patekar, Sherawat doesn't quite bring the house down.
However, she's funnier than some of the brainwaves that pass off as comedy in this brain-strain of a film, like the climax that has all the characters cramped in a wooden shack perched in the middle of a yawning precipice.
Honestly, it isn't just the precipice that's yawning by the time the climax screeches into sight.
Feroz Khan, the most senior don of the loud loutish lot of mobsters, is led to believe that his son is dead.
A good 20 minutes of the script goes into Anil, Nana, Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar running helter-skelter pretending Feroz's son is dead when in fact he is running around the cremation ground trying to attract his intellectually-challenged dad's attention.
Laughing in the face of death is a wonderful thing. We saw the death-defying drollery occur earlier this year in Rahul Rawail's comedy 'Buddha Mar Gaya'.
Writer-director Anees Bazmi does the festive farce with more finesse. The narrative avoids crudity most of the way even as the goofball antics of the characters gets progressively outlandish. Cars break into two halves, guns go off in the wrong direction and the actors look more crazed than people in a mental asylum.
Yawn. Another comedy. Another day in the long history of films from Bollywood struggling to make the audience laugh.
But how do we bear with this one beyond a point? Sure we giggle a bit at the outset. But we don't really get to see the comic aptitudes of Bazmi develop beyond a cluster of gags and skits beaded together in broad strokes of crude satire.
Akshay Kumar manfully allows Katrina to rescue him from a fire but who can rescue us from the raging flames of ennui that envelope us as we watch talented actors make fools of themselves?