Pagalpanti Review (No Spoilers): No Sense for a Nonsense World

Boy was that a fun movie going experience! Sold out theater, everyone laughing, and complete utter entertaining stupidity.

Ah, the stupid comedy! The stupid illogical comedy! It has a great history, going back to The Marx Brothers and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. It’s not supposed to be about logic and depth, it’s just a series of random crazy moments. But then, that’s also the depth. All of life is random crazy moments, each sequence invites us to laugh at a different part of life, and the overall structure makes us laugh at all of life itself.

Image result for pagalpanti poster

That’s not just me reading in depth, that is explicitly said at the end of the movie. In a world that no longer makes sense, suddenly nonsense is the most sensible thing you can do. And it’s true, all the things this film skewers, all the tropes and craziness, it’s already nonsense. All this film is doing is pointing it out.

For example, at one point a character lies that he doesn’t care about the girl he is secretly romancing by claiming he sees her as a sister. From then on, whenever they are caught in a compramising situation, Anil Kapoor smiles indulgently and says “Ah, Bhai-Ben love!” Indian society and Indian film claims that the “bhai-ben” spoken relationship is impenetrable and absolute. All this film is doing is pointing out how ridiculous that is, and how funny it is to watch someone believe it. And yes, they are doing it in a nonsense way, but that’s the point. It’s nonsense to begin with.

High light of the film, and by fair the biggest laugh of the night, is the slow build to treating the new patriotism of films to that same “you realize this is ridiculous, right?” kind of treatment. It starts with a seemingly sincere speech about how, at heart, the NRI is still an Indian. It feels slightly funny because it is so out of nowhere in this silly film, plus the characters are all wearing ridiculous sexy modern clothing while talking old-fashioned values. But then the scene builds and builds, until it reaches the point when an unexpected character starts solemnly singing a patriotic hymn and everyone else joints in, looking inspired and noble. The theater was laughing so hard at this point I could barely here what was happening onscreen. Because yes, it is insane to talk about wealthy sexy NRIs suddenly turning noble and Indian patriotic, complete with hymn singing, out of nowhere.

The key to this movie is to just accept that there is no sense to it. They filmed everything they thought might be funny and figured out how to fit it together later. The first ten minutes in particular are a mess. But a weirdly logical mess. The first sequence quickly introduces us to the characters but, more importantly, has a massive explosion. And then we slam right into the first song, with Ileana D’Cruz who hasn’t been introduced as a character yet. Only after that do we have Ileana talking to her uncle Brijendra Kala and the actual clear for real start of the plot. None of this will make sense on DVD, but watching it in theaters, seeing everyone wander in 5-10 minutes late, it makes total sense. You get an explosion, you get a song, and then when you are settled and ready to concentrate, you get actual plot.

Not much plot though. It’s just about these 9 characters bouncing off each other. Speaking of which, especially after seeing Housefull 4, I was so happy to see the 3 female characters get just as much to do as the male. They were still types, but then everyone in this movie was a type. Ileana was the smart girl trying to catch them, Kirti Kharbanda was the dangerously dumb girl (and she was HILARIOUS), Urvashi Rautela was the sexy street smart one. They were part of the madness of the plot, not just objects to be the goal of the plot. Beyond that, although Kirti and Ileana were rich and Urvashi was sexy, that wasn’t why they wanted them. Each male lead had a chance to prove that they truly loved their romantic partner, and they did. Beyond money and sex and so on. So yes, it’s 3 couples, plus 3 older comic actors (Anil Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, and Brijendra Kala), so 9 leads in total. Plus another 5 comic villains.

That massive cast is part of how the film works too. Again, it’s nonsense like life is nonsense. The 9 leads keep getting mixed up and put together in different combinations, just when you think you can settle down into what is happening, it all changes again. Having such an enormous cast means even though the plot isn’t actually moving forward (it’s more just circling around and around), it never becomes dull. More people means you feel like thing are changing even when nothing is happening.

I’m still not going to exactly recommend this film. It’s a big stupid movie. If you liked Mubarakan, or Welcome, and think you might still enjoy something like that with even less plot and a terrible young male lead (seriously, why does Pulkit Samrat even have a career?), you should check this out. If crazy nonsensical comedy with over the top acting doesn’t appeal to you, skip it.


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