One always feels that the Hindi film industry does not explore too many genres. When a film of a particular genre becomes a huge success, dozens of producers ask writers and directors to make a film for them in the same genre. There are very few who dare to go against the tide and tap into a genre or a subject that has largely remained unexplored. Spoof comedy, as a genre, has remained largely unexplored in India. If one takes Hindi cinema into consideration, one can recall two films, ‘Quick Gun Murugun’ and ‘Welcome To New York’, that have been made in this genre. While the former was a much celebrated film, the latter was a major commercial failure. This week’s new Hindi release ‘Arjun Patiala’ is a spoof on cop films made in the country.
The film opens with a struggling writer (Abhishek Banerjee) narrating his script to a producer (Pankaj Tripathi). Soon, we see the world he has created on paper through the visuals on the screen. Arjun Patiala (Diljit Dosanjh) assumes his duties as the in-charge of the police station in Ferozpur, a small town in Punjab. Arjun is an over-enthusiastic cop who gets further excited when IPS Amarjeet Singh Gill (Ronit Roy), whom he has grown up idolising, expresses his desire to see Ferozpur as a crime-free town. Arjun meets a spunky and ethical journalist named Ritu Randhawa (Kriti Sanon) and falls in love with her. Ritu is impressed by Arjun’s fearless attitude and colourful personality and soon enough, we see them being in a relationship. Along with constable Onidda (Varun Sharma), Diljit chalks out a plan to eliminate all the dreaded criminals in the town.
When you are making a spoof comedy, you have to ensure that the ‘sur’ of the narrative remains consistent throughout the film. The audience should be constantly aware of the fact the event unfolding on the screen is actually parodying itself. Writers Ritesh Shah and Sandeep Leyzell have put together a script that does the justice to the genre of the film to a good extent but it falters at several places as well. There are a couple of sequences where you feel the fact that the film is a spoof comedy is almost being screamed out at you. In these junctures, when you feel the humour is being spoon-fed to you, you tend to lose interest in the proceedings. The setting of the film is right, the characters are good but the plot needed to have more weight to it.
On the brighter side, the film manages to keep you engaged for the larger part of its duration and delivers moments, which bring a smile to your face, pretty consistently. The first half of the film has a good pace to it; in the second half there are places where you feel the pace has become languid and the plot is being dragged for no reason. One must make a special mention of the dialogues. Most of the lines uttered by the actors do their job of making the audience laugh. The lines are witty and work well within the context of the scene they are written for. Sachin-Jigar’s music is a major asset to the film. The best song is also the most popular one from the soundtrack, ‘Main Deewana Tera’ (music: Sachin-Jigar and Guru Randhawa, lyrics: Guru Randhawa). The editing (Huzefa Lokhandwala) leaves a lot to be desired. There are continuity mistakes in a few scenes, like the one where Ritu appears in a white sari and speaks to Arjun.
Diljit Dosanjh gets to play the titular role and hence, gets ample screen time to display his skills as an actor. He acts very well and has an uninhibited charm that works very well for the character. Kriti Sanon’s character has certain similarities to the one she played in ‘Luka Chuppi’ but here, she gets a good opportunity to show her flair for comedy and does very well in that space. Though one would have liked to see her character having a few more layers to it, her performance leaves no room for any complain. Varun Sharma leaves a mark as always. Ronit Roy delivers an impressive performance as IPS Amarjeet Singh Gill. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is seen in a never-seen-before avatar and he leaves a solid impact with her performance. Out of all the actors playing a supporting part, Seema Pahwa definitely leaves the biggest impression with her portrayal of a comical villain.
Director Rohit Jugraj, who had made films like ‘James’ and ‘Superstar’ before shifting base to Punjab, makes his comeback to the Hindi film industry with this film and he and his team definitely deserve brownie points for making a film in a genre that is seldom explored here. This could have been a much better film but it is an experiment that works to a good extent.