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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, Review: Many parts, many holes, no whole, no soul

Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, Review: Many parts, many holes, no whole, no soul

In one scene of Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, the protagonist, an actor who goes under the screen name of Sudheer, cannot get his lines right, because he has not had a swig of his favourite brew, and gives retake after retake. We see him do seven/eight retakes, after which, mercifully, the film-maker goes into a montage, with only music, after which it is revealed that he had given as many as 32 retakes. Mercifully, the film’s director spared us some 25 samples. Count this among the small mercies that are offered and grab it with both hands. A film whose title means ‘Parts of every tale successful’ only succeeds in evoking a mixture of pity and outrage.

A man called Babulal Chandola hails from the Garhwal region of north India and has worked as a bit player/character actor in films for several decades, adopting the screen-name of Sudheer. During the shooting of an interview aimed at motivating Garhwali youth, he becomes extra frank and honest, prompting the interviewer, a female, to cut the shot. She tells him to talk about his career and highlights, rather than paint a gloomy picture. She asks him that, since according to imdb, he has acted in 499 films, why did he not complete 500? This is news to Sudheer, who was not aware of being so close to a landmark that had been crossed by actors like Pran, Shakti Kapoor and Man Mouji. Encouraged by a friend, Mehra, the retired Sudheer returns, to put on make-up and notch-up the magic figure.

A widower, Sudheer has a daughter and a very young grand-daughter, but he lives separately, alone, and has become an alcoholic. He visits his daughter’s home once a month, with sweets and chocolates. His attempt at bagging a new assignment stutters when a casting director called Gulati gets him an assignment to dub the voice of fellow actor Avtar Gill, making him believe that Gill has gone away to Thailand, and the dubbing is urgent. Gill comes to know about this, and threatens to bash him up, unless he parts with all the money he got for the job. Sudheer pays him immediately. Gill continues to haunt him everywhere, but Sudheer manages to bag a role in a big budget project, for which Gill had been finalised, and his come-back cum parting shot has all the makings of a block-buster, until….

What in heavens were story-screenplay writer Hardik Mehta and dialogue writers HM and Radhika Anand up to here? A small-time actor who has acted in 499 films and wants to add one more to the list, making quantity, if not quality, count, sounds interesting. Not till HM and to a lesser extent, RA get to rip it apart. Sudheer gave up acting because he promised his daughter he would spend time with them. He doesn’t. Instead, he drinks every day. So why did he give up? What’s more, he hankers after one more role just to bask in imdb (he calls it imbd) glory. Did he really expect to be provided liquor before a vital scene because he cannot memorise dialogue unless he’s drunk? Why is he so shocked when the production department calls him names for needing 32 retakes to get his lines right in his first shot for a prestigious production?

Why take a known, and talented, actor, in the role of a ham, and give him a pseudonym, while calling his nemesis, Avtar Gill, by his real-name? The only time Sudheer talks about his late wife is when he tells his neighbour, also an actress, that her favourite song was ‘Jab koyee baat bigad jaye’ (Film: Jurm, 1990), but it broke her heart when he told her that the tune was lifted from an English song (‘500 miles’, 1962, other versions too). Is that the most important memory he held? Joking about his wig, the almost bald Sudheer says, “Mehdi Hassan (the Pakistani ghazal wizard) never wore a wig, did he?” In very poor taste, M/s Mehta and Anand! Just not done! I am sure you were trying to be funny in both the above instances, but it elicited more outrage than any tickling of our funny bones.

In the opening credits, there is a dedication to actor Viju Khote, a friend, and I was happy to see a film honouring the late colleague. That happiness evaporated when I saw that there is barely one scene featuring him and he has just one line of dialogue, though the film was completed before his passing away. And to think that Hardik had planned to make a documentary on Viju, the Kaalia from the legendary block-buster Sholay! Actors like Birbal, Man Mouji, Ramesh Goyal, Anil Nagrath and Liliput are treated no better, being allotted barely one scene. Obviously, they have been used just to create an illusion of authenticity, as have been the names of artistes like Pran and Shakti Kapoor. Two extraneous ‘parts’ come as sub-plots: one is the entire track of Sudheer’s wife, her husband, their daughter, probably the only tick mark on the merit side, and the actress and her husband, who move in below Sudheer’s flat, a track that is pointless and aimless.

‘Amdavad Ma Famous’ (Famous in Ahmedabad; 2015), a much lauded and awarded documentary director Hardik Mehta shot in Ahmedabad, about the highly popular local sport of kite-flying, had some shades of finesse and élan. This was his second non-feature, after Chal Meri Luna (tribute to the lightweight, gearless, moped). In 2013, he had directed a segment in the anthology Cutting Chai, titled Skin Deep, on a man undergoing circumcision. Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab is a 2018 production that sees the light of day a year-and-a-half after its premiere at Busan. It was writer-director Devashish Makhija who suggested that Mehta make a feature rather than a short on this subject. Surely we cannot blame Makhija for the features of this feature, which was shown alongside Makhija’s Bhosle, at the reputed South Korean film festival, but how one wishes it had remained a short.

Hardik Mehta has some basic lessons to learn about making full-length features. Though HKKHK is closer to a short than a feature, in terms of length, Mehta is unable to hold our interest. Though the script was baked over four years, the 27 days of shooting it entailed have little to show for the gestation. Sure, we appreciate that there are several hundred bit players in the Hindi (or any other) film industry, who are type-cast as policemen, doctors, dacoits, judges, lawyers, gangsters, heroines’ fathers and the ilk, but they don’t attain glory merely because “Om Puri is no more, Naseeruddin Shah is concentrating on theatre and Anupam Kher is busy Tweeting.” That kind of oversimplification is downright insulting to the intelligentsia and misleading to the innocentsia.

Okay, Sanjay Mishra is a good actor and not a bad choice for the part. Why, oh why, did nobody think of treating him better? He makes a valiant effort to salvage the film, fighting for a lost cause. Deepak Dobriyal as Gulati does his job well, exhibiting the right amount of sleaze and practicality of professional ‘ethics’. Avtar Gill seems to be enjoying this indulgent showcase. Lending support to this tale of a supporting actor (called aaloo in insider parlance, after the humble potato, which fits into so many dishes) are Sarika Singh (daughter), Isha Talwar (actress-neighbour), Devas Dixit (Gulati’s Assistant), Nasirr Khan (director), AkashDeep Arora (Shibu Das, assistant director), Guddi Maruti (herself), Karwakee Vasistha (Anu), Rashi Verma (TV interviewer), Devika Vatsa (casting assistant), Amitabh Srivastava (Sudheer’s friend, Mehra), Bachchan Pacheria, Neeraj Pandey, Mukesh Prajapati, Manoj Bakshi and Mukesh Nagar.

Rachita Anand’s score is genre-defying and pleasant, though not really hummable. The three tracks have poetry (Neeraj Pandey) that ranges from the inspired to the attempted intellectual, and are sung by Ash King, Bappi Lahiri and Hariharan. One of the four awards the film has won at international film festivals has been bagged by Arora. That’s not bad. What I am concerned about is the fact that the other three awards are either for the Best Film or Best Director. Really?

Backed/blessed by directors of the calibre of Vikramaditya Motwane, Neeraj Pandey and Devashish Makhija, Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab is definitely full of parts, but none of the parts have any soul nor do they grow into a successful whole. If there is any whole, it is the hole that Hardik Mehta digs himself into. To play upon the film’s central dialogue line, “Enjoying life; aor option kya hae?” (enjoying life; what other option do I have?), you have the option of enjoying life, by not watching this movie. Ambitious title, little to justify it. After reading the synopsis, are you even vaguely recalling films like Guddi and Chala Murari Hero Banne, because they too were ‘inside jobs’? Surely you have better things to reflect upon.

Rating: * ½

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KwQkxW1bVc

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


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