Ram Parmar (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a stage actor intent on living up to his name: his tendency to play “God” leads him one day to the jobless, good-for-nothing Mandar Lele (Kunal Roy Kapur), who is in the midst of executing his own suicide. Ram puts a stop to this, and then proceeds to take it upon himself to sort Mandar’s life out – which, he realizes, is in shambles mostly because of Nandini (Pooja Salvi), the girl who broke his heart. In his attempt to reunite the couple, Ram gets caught in the mess – his girlfriend Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca) begins feeling ignored, and he himself starts falling in love with the worst candidate possible.
Nautanki Saala! is the second venture for both Ayushmann and Kunaal, but does it live up to the legacies of both of their first films? Read our Pros and Cons list to find out!
(+) It’s hilarious. The film – particularly in the first half – has some seriously good lines, which are (thankfully) not of the slapstick and double-entendre variety. Several scenes, such as the audition scene, are excellent and will have you laughing for its entirety. The good news is that the film is at least mildly amusing throughout, so even when you’re not cracking up, there’s always something to smile or chuckle about.
(+) The lead actors. They’re both only one film old, but they’re complete naturals. Ayushmann and Kunal are very well-cast in this film, and their comedic styles are different enough that neither one seems to steal the limelight away from the other. And the best part is that while they’re of course great together (the audition scene in particular, again), they’re also excellent individually (Kunal’s scenes on stage and Ayushmann’s sequence in the restaurant).
(+) The supporting cast. Each character has their own idiosyncrasies and, across the board, these characters have been cast well. Gaelyn Mendonca as Ram’s girlfriend is vivacious and carries her role with ease. Evelyn Sharma does justice to her character and looks very glam while doing so. Rufy Khan as Loli is dense and annoying in a very intentional way. Sulbha Arya as Mandar’s grandmother is fabulous in her few scenes. But the pick of the lot is Sanjeev Bhatt, who is downright hilarious as the show’s producer.
(-) The love triangle is not fully developed. It’s hard to fathom why exactly Ram is falling in love with Nandini when all they’ve had is one unintentional date (and, well, one make-out session, which is done with such fervor that it almost looks like Ayushmann is intent on stealing Emraan Hashmi‘s crown). What doesn’t help is that there’s nothing exceptionally likable about Nandini in the first place: she’s portrayed to be a timid, wavering character, and in an attempt to play this role, Pooja Salvi ends up looking a little dull herself.
(-) The second half disappoints. While the first half provides chuckles aplenty, things take a fairly predictable route towards the second half. The pacing slows (partly due to the unnatural inclusion of songs) and there’s less to laugh about, but fortunately the film remains at least mildly engaging throughout, so you still leave the cinema satisfied.
Worth a watch – it’s funny, there’s some good acting, and it’s a consistently light film that entertains without insulting your intelligence. (3/5 stars.)
With inputs from Amruta Khatavkar.