by Devansh Patel: Harrow Observer, UK
When was the last time you picked up a pop corn, your favourite cola, some cheesy nachos and sat in the red lounge of Cinemax with your extended family and laughed out loud on the hilarious one liners thrown by the weird, often crazy and witty characters from a cool comic caper? Make way for debutant director Paritosh Painter who paints the silver screen with his effervescent cast in a family entertainer film titled Paying Guest.
Paying Guest isn't about a plot, anyway. It's about characters, and about the twisted logic of screwball comedy, in which everybody acts the craziest just when they're trying to make the most sense.
Three friends living in Bangkok, Chef Shreyas Talpade, Car sales man Ashish Chowdhary and creative writer Javed Jaffery, are kicked out by their employers for messing things up in their respective jobs. They blow their job is how Javed describes it. Adding to their existing trouble is Vatsal Sheth who comes from India for a job interview. He gives hope to the hopeless three of an accommodation too but soon finds himself as helpless and a hopeless lot like his mates. All four have no option but to stay as paying guests now. But then problem number three is just waiting round the corner at the Bhalla residence owned by a darling couple, Sardarji Johnny Lever and Gujju babe Delnaz Paul. They have one important rule you have to follow in order to be their paying guest. You have to be married. What follows next is a fun ride with the cross dressers Karisma and Kareena played by Shreyas and Javed, Bhalla's four play as described by Mrs Bhalla, the lunatic Lonny (read Ronny) played by Chunky Pandey who happens to be the younger brother of Bhalla and four leggy beauties Riya Sen, Celina Jaitley, Neha Dhupia and Sayali Bhagat.
Since the comic material is familiar and highly inspired by films like Raffoo Chakkar, Golmaal and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, what's a little amazing is how fresh it seems at times, in the hands of the our Bollywood heroes. Chunkey Pandey is the best surprise; in a role that seems written as a license for flamboyance, he's more restrained than in anything he's done since his last comic act. Vatsal Sheth and Ashish Chowdhary don't have quite the semi-hysterical sincerity and sometimes are a little too obvious, but they work well the rest of the time, especially in their more pensive passages. Though Vatsal and Ashish look fresh in all their frames. Most of the biggest laughs come from Shreyas Talpade and Javed Jaffery, as they play the mismatched wives who confront one another in a nerve-racking test of appearances. As can be expected, the comedy comes from their wicked exaggerated tics, and Vatsal and Ashish's despairing attempt to mask them. But Johnny Lever cannot be forgotten.His is an even effort that captures the humour and grace of the slapstick antics of the masters of the genre, like, Kishore Kumar, Keshto Mukherjee, Mehmood, Jagdeep, etc. He is back with the vengeance and proves that even an old horse can sometimes win the race. Celina and Neha look sexy as always. Riya and Sayali look beautiful. I'm sure you too will notice them with the same intentions. Hmmmm!
The biggest draw back of Paying Guest is its editing. It's the worse I've seen in my eight years as a Bollywood columnist, especially the cut from one frame to the other looks forced. There is no connect. With a little heart and brains, the editing could've been stitched. The film delves deeper into the realm of situational comedy, and every time it struggles to make its audience laugh, Shreyas, Johnny, Javed and Chunky make an added effort to make sure the audiences white teeth are seen. Many critics might have criticised Paritosh Painter to lift scenes straight up from the yesteryear classics but not many know that it could've been Painters deliberate attempt to rip off the films and recall them to you in a newly packaged product titled Paying Guest.
The film has all the pieces in place to be a good comedy if not a great comedy. While it doesn't quite live up to its potential, it's still a heck of a lot funnier than what usually passes for comedy in these days. Paying Guest is worth paying for once if not twice and contains enough belly-laughs and sly jokes to become one of the end of summer crowd pleasers.
Rating - 3 out of 5