Not So Hot!

A Review of GARAM MASALA (2005)
Director: Priyadarsan

Our first semester jury had just ended and I was, ahem, acquitted. So to celebrate the triumph at the trial, a group of pals and I headed out to a fast-food joint to eat. On the spur of the moment we decided to see a movie, and we had three choices - Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, Garam Masala, and some obscure Gujarathi film whose name I couldn't read. The obvious choice? You guessed it, though I admit we chose to see GM not because of the content but because of the male content ;)

The movie began, as all Bollywood movies do, with a bang. Good ol' Mauritius with gorgeous sets, gorgeous women and gorgeous photographers Mac (Akshay Kumar) and Sam (John Abraham) having a whale of a time ogling them. There's the done-to-death Adarsh Bharatiya Nari Rimii Sen as Anjali, Mac's fiancee (for God's sake! Do single Indian women working abroad wear salwar kameez all the time???) Fortunately she doesn't have too much screen time. Neha Dhupia appears for a few minutes, which is a pity because she seems to have put in a decent performance in whatever little screen time she had.

Mac is a photographer with Garam Masala magazine and Sam is his assistant, and both have the hots for Maggie (Dhupia), the receptionist at their office. Mac's the boss but when Sam wins a photography competition by fluke, he gets a raise, a trip to the US and Maggie. Mac wows to make Sam sorry and jealous and proceeds to con three exceedingly pretty airhostesses Deepti, Pooja and Sweetie. With the help of the poker-faced housekeeper Mambo (Paresh Rawal) and a car mechanic called Babban, Mac manages to narrowly keep the three girls from discovering each other. As it gets increasingly difficult with frequent changes in flight timings (even the flights abroad seem to be irregular!) Mac is at his wits' end. Reenter Sam, who has returned from the US, and all hell breaks loose as the men try to keep the girls and cover up for Mac at the same time. Finally, after an needlessly long time, the cat's out of the bag and Mac is forced to flee with Sam in tow.

The movie is overall genuinely funny, though it drags a bit towards the end. It's a treat to see macho Kumar and metrosexy Abraham deviate from their usual sophisticated last-man-standing portrayals and play a couple of goodlooking but royally goofy guys who seem to be falling most of the time. Kumar has established himself of late as a fine comic, and Abraham shows promise of getting there. But Paresh Rawal as the droll housekeeper Mambo is simply brilliant. His sense of comic timing is perfect and his grumpy face shows a lot of expression without too much movement. It's a pity the movie didn't turn out better.

The flaws are the usual suspects - too many pretty women (it's often difficult to differentiate between the three airhostesses, both from each other and the side dancers that accompany them), too many songs, and too many uneccessary details. For instance, it would have been wonderful to show a few bits of Mac and Sam's bonding at their old apartment, rather than for just one scene, because male bonding almost always works in films (Remember Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan in Kal Ho Na Ho?) Kumar and Abraham show good chemistry, and are good together with Rawal. Personally though, what riled me is that Anjali forgives her fiance for cheating on her with three women at at time! Beats me what spineless fiancee would put up with that. And if the men are dumb, the women seem to be even dumber, and suspecting the mysterious appearance of food they didn't ask for and another woman's handbag doesn't make them look any smarter, because Mac manages to convince them at the end. This isn't Priyadarsan at his best but its shows a lot more promise than Kyon Ki.

Watch it for a good time of laughter with friends, and of course, if you have a crush on Kumar and Abraham. This masala goes well with some chai.

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