Mumbai, 18 Jan 2019 15:32 IST
Arshad Warsi and Saurabh Shukla bumble their way through a film which is loopy, fragmented and often regressive.
If 2018 saw women in Hindi cinema step up to claim lost ground and position, Fraud Saiyaan comes roaring back with a wave of cliched regressive tropes from the 1990s. That the film's lead cast includes two talented actors in Arshad Warsi and Saurabh Shukla is a matter of regret. The trope aside, the absence of logic, plot loopholes, and fragmented screenplay ensure that the film lacks any spark to gain your commitment.
As the charming Bhola Sharma, Warsi brings into play his mischievous grin as he cons his way out of not one or two but 12 marriages. Bhola alternates from one wife to another every week as he tries to eke out money to keep his charade going. On his tail is Murari (Shukla), his friend-cum-assistant for all appearances but secretly a detective on the trail of the con man.
The first 20 minutes of the film roll with a pace that is confusing, to say the least. Not that the rest of the film gets any easier. As Warsi's con man goes from wife to wife, it is remarkable that none of them suspect his motive, and even submit to his wiles. From the two unwitting housewives in Benares, another one in Delhi, a dacoit, the women just can't seem to resist Bhola's charms. The audience is left to wonder why.
There are moments of hilarity that save the first half, fuelled by quite a few fart jokes. The fact that the writers had to resort to fart jokes is a sign of the lack of any other creative element involved in the scripting process.
Warsi and Shukla do their best to salvage their characters. Warsi goes a little over the top at times, but his comebacks and one-liners remind you why he is such a good comic artiste. Shukla plays well as the foil to Warsi's character, but his character is blatantly underwritten.
There are no other memorable characters in the film. Even the usually adept Varun Badola is reduced to being a walkthrough in a very convoluted story. Flora Saini, Sara Loren, Deepali Pansare and Amrita Puri are reduced to playing women with no personality.
Even slapstick comedy requires a flow. With Fraud Saiyaan, it is a combination of random comic skits thrown together to make a film.
The major flaw lies in the helter-skelter style of storytelling that fails to stitch the elements together. None of the characters is fully fleshed out, and incidents often appear random. While that might work in a comic caper, it has to feel organic. This is most apparent in the ludicrous reasoning for Bhola's conning act. Director Sourabh Shrivastava does not manage to bring together the comic and emotional elements, and the few moments there are, are lost due to slack direction.
Given the current #MeToo movement, the film makes for very uncomfortable viewing indeed. Incidentally, the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) certificate mentions that it was passed while the board was headed by Pahlaj Nihalani. Nihalani has his own story of a man conning women, Rangeela Raja, being released today. If you are bored enough, you might find this trivia interesting.
In all, you might as well pull a runner on Bhola and his fraud marriages.
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