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I was looking forward to Nautanki Saala. One, the trailers looked good and two, it is `aysuhman Khurana’s second movie after the superb Vicky Donor. Unfortunatley, the movie does not live up to the promise showen in the promos though Aushmann doesn’t diappooint
Ram is a successful actor (going by the money he spends in the movie) in a Ramayan production where he plays Ravan. He saves a stranger, Mandar Lele from commiting suicinde and then proceeds to rehabilitate him by mollycoddling him and building his confidence and even getting him the lead role of Ram in the play. It turns out, Mandar was depressed because his girlfriend Nandini had ditched him. So Ram, the do gooder, tries to get them back together and falls in love with her in the process. The rest of the movie is about detangling the knots.
The story is promising and set against the colourful backdrop of the Ramayan play held a lot of potential. However, poor editing is the culprit in its downfall. There are too many unnecessary scenes and long dialogues and they drag the pace down. Also, because of this, the movie starts meandering and losing pace and you start wondering what the whole point is.
The other problem is the zero chemistry between Ram and Nandini. Ram has a very spunky attractive girlfriend when the movie begins and why he would fall for the passive Nandini over that girlfriend is incomprehensible. In a romantic comedy if the romance does not work, it is not a good thing for the well being of the film.
In its favour, the movie has a couple of totally hilarious scenes and sudden laughs that catch you by surprise and have you in splits. There are also a few characters like the Malyali receptionist in the hospital who crack you up. The sets and costumes of the Ramayan are awesome and make the film visually very interesting. The music is pretty good and lifts your spirits considerably. The best part of the movie is the last scene, which is absolutely a killer.
Ayushmann does a good job of holding the movie together though he tends to be a bit too clever at times and that mars his easy going, natural self. For me, the scene-stealer is Kunaal Roy Kapur as the suicidal Mandar. He is cute, vulnerable and very funny. Pooja Salvi as Nandini is the one person who pulls the acting averages down totally. She is vapid, and expressionless and acts so dumb its unbelievable. She has beautiful big eyes and she uses them to no effect absolutely. She is the reason the romance falls flat. A case of bad casting or bad direction.
The movie is only 2 hours long, but can seem longer in the draggy parts. However it’s not bad for an aimless Saturday evening. The laughs when they come are genuinely funny, but you will need some patience. The nautanki is not nautanki enough to make it a full house. Buy the cheaper tickets and you will be happy.