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Nautanki Saala – Movie Review

Nautanki Saala poster

Written by: Charudutt Acharya, Nipun Dharmadhikari & Rohan Sippy, based on the original story by Benoit Graffin & Pierre Salvadori
Directed by: Rohan Sippy
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Pooja Salvi, Gaelyn Mendonca

Nautanki Saala has generated a lot of publicity thanks to it being the follow-up to Ayushmann Khurrana’s highly successful and acclaimed Vicky Donor. Also it marks the return of Rohan Sippy to the director’s chair after the blow-hot/blow-cool Dum Maaro Dum in 2011. Saala is an official remake of Après vous… (After You…), a French movie. I have not seen the original, so do not have any reference to pit it against. As a stand-alone product, the movie works well up to a certain extent…and then the length kills it!

The story revolves around RP (Khurrana) who is a theatre actor/director in a famous mythological Ramayana play. One day, on his way back home, he saves a jobless, depressed and lovelorn Mandar Lele (Kunaal Roy Kapur) from committing suicide. Soon after that he starts feeling responsible for Lele. He starts helping Lele develop a positive attitude towards life, gets him a job and tries to get Mander’s love life back on track. However, RP’s involvement results in complications aplenty in his work, his relationship with his girlfriend Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca) and his relation with Mander’s ex-girlfriend Nandini (Pooja Salvi). Whether RP succeed in achieving what he set out to do or destiny has other plans for him–this question forms the main plot.

[ad#longpost]Coming to the positives, Ayushmann Khurrana is the soul of the movie. He shows why he is one of the young talents to look out for. His acting exudes lot of confidence. He has amazing screen presence and enacts his role perfectly. There are a varied range of emotions which the character goes through and he excels in bringing out every one of them perfectly well. Kunaal Roy Kapur plays his perfect foil. A role requiring him to act like an annoying bumpkin–and he does it perfectly. Of the two ladies, Gaelyn Mendonca performs comparatively better. Pooja Salvi is expressionless!! There is a lot of room for improvement for her. Special Mention to the man playing the producer of the theatre plays. He is hilarious every time he comes on screen.

The movie is well directed. Like all his previous works, Rohan Sippy manages to get a glossy looking product with some impressive performances. Music is excellent; the background score is superb. The movie has one of the better background scores amongst the recent slew of movies. There are couple of remixed songs picked up from old Hindi movies, which are good. The songs have excellent repeat value especially “Sadi Gali” and “Mera Mann kehne laga”. There are around eight music directors (including the one whose original songs were remixed)! The album is a keeper. The dialogues are well written and there are some hilarious situations which are very well presented without being gross.

The main drawback is the length of the movie. The second half appears a bit too long for my liking. Also, there is not much of a story to be told–it just reminds one of the hundreds of love triangles in cinema that have come before. If this was the story of Après vous, not sure if it was worth the remake. The main premise of the movie appeared extremely silly. The length which RP goes to help Mander, as depicted in the movie, is insane. It would ideally happen only in a very strange parallel universe!! Also, as mentioned the editing must have been crispier.

Overall, it has a strong lead actor and a supporting actor/actress. The songs are good for their situations and excellent, the background score is great, but the story lacks the punch and it drags on quite a lot in the second half. Overall, it is an above average fare.