Aankh Micholi, a comedy of errors by OMG! director Umesh Shukla, can best be described as a WTH film, Where’s the humour? With a plotline as thin as an impromptu comic sketch, even the clownings of slapstick regulars like Paresh Rawal, Sharman Joshi, and Abhishek Banerjee feels like a victim to forceful tickling. It involves a lot of people uttering absurd lies, then giving absurd explanations to cover up for those lies, then smiling sheepishly and laughing awkwardly, hoping the audience might join in.
The film opens in Switzerland where Paro Singh (Mrunal Thakur), like a typical Yash Chopra heroine, is praying for a suitable boy in a church, since a gurudwara wasn’t around (I would have won a bet with myself if she had opened the prayer with “God ji”). After a bizarre scene, which involves a Charlie Chaplin cosplayer running away with her phone, Paro spots mystery hunk Rohit Patel (Abhimanyu Dasani). A song sequence which feels like an advertisement for a clothing brand follows. It’s love at first sight for Paro but there is a hiccup. She has night blindness.
Back home in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur, her family too has their own share of ailments. Father Navjot (Paresh Rawal) suffers from fixation amnesia, popularly known as short-term memory loss (Thanks Ghajini), while brothers Yuvraj (Sharman Joshi) and Harbhajan (Abhishek Banerjee) can’t hear and stutter, respectively. Needless to say, these disabilities are continuously exploited for cheap laughs. Paro also has a sister-in-law Billo (Divya Dutta), who, in dearth of an impairment, combines two idioms together to mostly nonsensical rather than comical results. Something like “biting a bullet is no rocket science”.
Chaos, confusions and explanations galore when Rohit and family—which includes an incessantly guffawing Darshan Jariwala and a loud Grusha Kapoor—visit the Singhs for a marriage prospect. Unbeknownst to the Singhs, Rohit can’t see during the day (Hemeralopia; Google it later). The humour lies somewhere in both families trying to cover up their children’s conditions. There are a lot of silly one-liners, exhausting gags and punny jokes which don’t make sense (“Saanp ko dekh ke log takle ho jaate hai, ye toh sirf haqla raha hai” (After seeing a snake, people go bald, he is just stammering). Characters are reduced to their disabilities/ quirks which are milked tirelessly for tired quips. In a scene, Rawal’s Navjot mistakes somebody’s hand for a phone and you are left wondering whether short-term memory loss really has something to do with understanding the meaning and utility of things. Banerjee’s Harbhajan opens his mouth only to be the butt of a stammer joke.
It’s pitiful to see able actors desperately trying to elevate shoddily written material. After the nightmarish Dream Girl 2, both Rawal and Banerjee are yet again wasted on another silly comedy. While Rawal still tries, Banerjee, for most of the runtime, merely roams around, mouth stuffed with betel leaves, waiting to be somebody’s punchline. It’s good to see Sharman Joshi again on the big screen but the repetitive gag of him repeating things because he can’t hear is fatiguing from the get-go. Only Divya Dutta seems to enjoy herself while playing a paranda-swinging cliche of a strong-willed Punjabi woman. I also felt happy for Vijay Raaz. After playing a character called Jauhari (jeweller) in Made in Heaven and the golden-suited Sona Bhai in Dream Girl 2, he finally gets to sell actual jewellery in a store. I can only imagine a meme with all his recent characters pointing fingers at each other.
Whenever a film turns into a bunch of incomprehensible events juxtaposed over each other, I can’t help but observe what’s happening in the backdrop. If there is a contest for comedy films with the most obnoxious background music, Aankh Micholi will surely find a place. A crow caws when Vijay Raaz appears on screen (Raaz’s character —which gave him mass appeal— he mistakenly eats crow-biryani in 2004’s Run). Somebody hums “Bhoola (Forgot!)” in the background whenever Rawal’s condition kicks in. In a suspenseful sequence where the makers expect the audience to wait with bated breath, “Dhak Dhak, Dhak Dhak” is voiced behind, to imitate an anxiously beating heart. What was missing was a laughing track. Lord knows this film needed it.
Director: Umesh Shukla
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Mrunal Thakur, Abhimanyu Dasani, Abhishek Banerjee, Sharman Joshi, Divya Dutta and Vijay Raaz