Khajoor Pe Atke Review: Not Even Remotely Funny
Long, boring, and totally bereft of what one would call half-decent humour, Khajoor Pe Atke needs to be given a pass without much thought
Khajoor Pe Atke tries hard to make you crack up with its forced gags about a family member’s imminent death that stretches on and on. It isn’t really that over-the-top (for the most part, at least) but the absence of any real humour rings a death knell for this long and boring film. Not even comedic mainstays in Manoj Pahwa and Vinay Pathak succeed in bringing Harsh Chhaya’s debut effort out of the doldrums.
Director: Harsh Chhaya
Cast: Manoj Pahwa, Vinay Pathak, Seema Pahwa, Dolly Ahluwalia
The unfortunate events commence with a post-midnight phone call to Jeetendar, who is informed of his younger brother’s hospitalisation. Though things appear serious, and Jeetendar contemplates leaving for Bombay immediately, his wife Sushila, makes light of the situation by telling him to go by himself. Instead of speaking gravely about her brother-in-law’s condition, she brings up the status of his rumoured second flat in the big city. Though insincere himself, Jeetendar coerces his family to pack their bags and head to the man’s side.
Youngest brother, Ravindar, is updated on the situation, but he too wishes to take the least line of resistance and not show up. He attempts convincing his wife to go in his stead, but she refuses. Ravindar puts off the trip for an important meeting at work. Jeetendar and Ravindar exchange sarcastic barbs amongst each other as to who cares more for the family. Ravindar finally bribes a colleague to postpone a vital contract from coming to pass in his absence, and books last-minute flight tickets to Bombay for the family.
Jeetendar and Ravindar are greeted by the picture of their sister-in-law, Kadambari, in the midst of eating something or the other (one day it’s a burger, the next day it’s black forest cake); as the brothers and their families express fake concern, little is in fact heard from her. In time, the sister of the family, Lalita, joins the group. They may all pretend to be there for an ailing family member, but their ulterior motives rise to the surface soon enough. Jeetendar’s daughter is in touch with a small-time tout who promises to introduce her to a director and make her dreams of becoming an actor come true. Ravindar, his wife, and their son, convert the visit into a vacation of sorts. The siblings’ older kids are in on their own fun. And lastly, Jeetendar and Sushila invite a prospective groom’s family to the hospital to discuss marriage plans for their daughter.
The film’s premise is rather straightforward: a reluctant family visits a dying member, expressing mock-concern, when in fact all they care about is whether or not that rumoured additional flat will be bequeathed to them. Among all the films dreadfully bad scenes of comedy, only two fall into the half-decent bracket: Kadambari chomping down on a variety of snacks as the family attempts to counsel her, and the truant brother, Abhishek, who perpetually dials Jeetendar asking, “Main abhi aa jaoon kya, bhaiyya?” (Shall I come now, brother?). The other instances, that are supposed to leave you in splits, fall quite a bit away from their intended mark. Lalita bringing some random babaji into the ICU without permission and the siblings’ kids getting caught by the police for shady behaviour time and again, are some of these moments. And believe me, all they make you wish for is for time to speed up.
Though it isn’t half as ridiculous or puerile as some the commercial fare that passes off as comedy in Bollywood these days, Khajoor Pe Atke is a film with almost no moments of laughter. To add to that, the unrealistic scenes with the doctors and hospital staff end up coming off as incredibly daft. Manoj Pahwa and Vinay Pathak, two very fine actors in possession of great comic timing, disappoint with their respective performances.
Ordinary writing, a subpar directorial debut, average performances, and a paucity of humour - Khajoor Pe Atke fails on account of a combination of these factors. This one can be given a hard pass.