Star cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Pooja Salvi, Gaelyn Mendonca, Evelyn Sharma, Abhishek Bachchan (Cameo)
Director: Rohan Sippy
What’s Good: Its comic set pieces, acting performances and the visual treats given by its artistic environments.
What’s Bad: The film’s failed attempts at evoking the audience’s emotions, some flat scenes, cheesy dialogues.
Loo Break: During the second half, before the climax.
Watch or Not? The issue with Nautanki Saala is that it is enjoyable in bits, and in parts wherein it isn’t fun, it gets kind of bothering. Ayushmann and Kunaal Roy Kapur pull off superb performances in their respective bids to try and make the film a pleasing experience for all.
This film is a perfect example of unharnessed potential from an indeed fascinating idea. Its script is built on around a play called Raavanleela which is being directed and acted in by Ram Parmar aka RP (Ayushmann Khurrana). Playing none other than Raavan in the Broadway-like production which is a far cry from what the actual theatre productions in Mumbai look like, he’s finding it difficult to juggle work and his live-in girlfriend Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca). Amidst all this enters Mandar Lele (Kunaal Roy Kapur), a suicidal heartbroken lover who, let’s say, hasn’t taken his separation from Nandini (Pooja Salvi) in good spirits. RP saves Mandar’s life, and in the bargain, gets this strange unjustified urge to unite him with Nandini again. And then the inevitable: he himself falls for her, and thus begins the turmoil of a Raavan trying to woo the Sita away from an oblivious Ram.
Nautanki Saala Review: Script Analysis
The problem here is that the script doesn’t even try to get its act together and deliver something interesting. Relationships remain unexplored, characters stay shallow, and then, as if an inevitability, the support of melodrama and wishy-washy dialogues is called for by the writers. Although comic capers and hilarious sequences do give you a lot to please yourselves with all throughout, the main characters have very little depth for you to be able to relate to them. Take for instance Nandini. Having left her husband Mandar against her wishes and on the insistence of his grandmother, this professional florist shows little or no remorse when switching between boyfriends every now and then. RP’s friendship with Mandar develops off-camera, and we never know when they become “BFFs.” The parallels with the staged Ramayan in RP’s play are some aspects where the script could easily have gained sheen, but it fails in doing that as well.
Nautanki Saala Review: Star Performances
It’s Ayushmann Khurrana all along. The chap, who made an impressive debut with the bold yet poignant Vicky Donor, steals the thunder in Nautanki Saala. His composed reactions and his ability to seamlessly convey comic, romantic as well as touching emotions give us some positives to take home. Kunaal Roy Kapur plays his part earnestly too, and manages to give the cold script some much needed fervour. Gaelyn Mendonca, as the supportive Chitra and Pooja Salvi, as the distressed Nandini, both do justice to their roles, but fail to leave a lasting impact. A special mention should go to Sanjeev Bhatt for his side-splitting reprisal of Chandra, the producer. His peculiar performance punctuated excellently by hilarious tidbits is highlight of the film.
Nautanki Saala Review: Direction, Music and Technical Aspects
Director Rohan Sippy fills Nautanki Saala with abundant comic sequences, and he does so with finesse, but he somehow loses his focus when it comes to building the momentum towards the climax. He at times, seems unsure what he really wants from his scenes which often fall flat, ready to be salvaged by the actors. His visual flair however is something that cannot be ignored. From the colourful theatre production to the hard-to-find picturesque locations in Mumbai, he rarely has his frames lack flamboyance.
Songs don’t seem to have been forced, and moreover, they are music to your ears. We once again witness the brilliant singing prowess of Ayushmann in the soulful Saadi Galli, whereas Falak Shabir’s Mera Mann Kehne Laga is enjoyable as well. But the point here is that the songs blend with the film’s premise easily, which is what gives them the added appeal. Nautanki Saala’s art direction and production values are worth special attention, as they manage to turn it into a visual extravaganza.
Nautanki Saala Review: The Last Word
This film suffers because its script never really realizes its own true potential. What could have been a perfectly told Ramayan-induced romantic tale with friendship as a side-addition meanders from this and that, failing to find its groove. The actors gleefully manage to salvage the vessel, with Ayushmann playing the captain. Nautanki Saala is a small-budget entertainer which entertains, but with mild doses of disdain. Watch this film with a light heart, and don’t expect to get either blown away or emotionally drained by it.
Nautanki Saala Trailer
Nautanki Saala released on 12th April, 2013.
Share with us your experience of watching Nautanki Saala.