Thursday 1 December 2011

Boyz boyz boyz: "Desi Boyz"

The title of Desi Boyz suggests a niche top-shelf publication, and the film attached to it is at what I hesitate to describe as its best while it lives up (or rather down) to it. This is a broad Bollywood bromance about two best buds sharing the same London bachelor pad: Nick (John Abraham), a successful banker, and the lowlier Jerry (Akshay Kumar), a shopping centre security guard. Both lose their jobs shortly after Nick has proposed to his girlfriend (Deepika Padukone), and the writer-director, Rohit Dhawan, has at least found a novel, not to mention rather topical, way of rendering Abraham - the Hindi cinema's very own McConaughey or Lautner - topless, because Nick both literally and figuratively loses the shirt off his back. At this point, a local entrepreneur and club owner - played by the always watchable heavy Salman Dutt, here dispensing impromptu Haddaway impersonations from beneath a very suggestive handlebar moustache - makes the boys, sorry boyz, an offer they cannot financially refuse: Jerry will become Rocco, and perform escort work for the businessman's agency, while Nick reinvents himself as a stripper with the stage name Hunter, and similarly begins to coin it in.

The plot, therefore, offers the masala treatment to The Full Monty, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and just about every Kevin James movie ever made (Jerry is even introduced riding a Paul Blart-ish segway), a combination of ingredients which will already have viewers of a particular disposition clutching at their stomachs, if not their sides. The resultant lowbrow mulch is then filtered through a not-untypical Bollywood chasteness: Nick makes Jerry promise their moonlighting will involve no sex with women, perhaps because the male leads come as close to playing gay as any screen couple could get without somebody reaching for the lubricant. The title number, which features the line "they say Lady GaGa is our fan" and involves Nick and Jerry dressing up - or down - as topless firemen and waving their hoses around, is fabulous in its own way; when Dutt concludes a toast to the pair with a hearty "bottoms up", we really don't know what to think, or expect.

After this vaguely bright set-up, however, the film splits down the middle (stop sniggering at the back): into farce, as Nick tries to keep his new profession from his fiancee, a strand in which Padukone - truly a thing of wonder, and a joy forever - is mostly wasted stomping about cluelessly in her Ugg boots; and into wholly insincere sentiment, as Jerry scraps to retain custody of the small boy he's rather incredibly inherited from somewhere. Around the time of the intermission, someone clearly changed their mind about the nudging tone of proceedings, so the strip club business is forgotten about, and Jerry is packed off to Trinity College, where he will fall for a glamorous lecturer (Chitrangada Singh) while alarming his younger male roommates by suggesting they all take a bath together. Desi Boyz becomes a shapeless mess from this point onwards, narrative thrust and continuity seemingly altering from scene to scene, such that the climactic courtroom sequence can somehow contrive to combine the head-turning (Padukone's slow-motion entrance) with the flatly horrible (Nick and Jerry outing everyone but themselves from the dock); a zeitgeist-flounting coda, meanwhile, finds our heroes laughing all the way to the bank. Cheerfully inane, but inane all the same.

Desi Boyz is in cinemas nationwide.

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