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For a few laughs



ROLLICKING COMEDY: It is Waqt for entertainment.

Many, many summers ago B. R. Chopra made "Waqt," that timeless tale of the vicissitudes of fortune that our parents saw and fell in love with. And we guys learnt to first respect, then appreciate. Somehow, with the passage of years "Ae meri Zohra jabeen" seems just a shade more delicious. And all one can say to those who initially sneered at the original and now love it, well, "waqt ki har shae ghulam".

It is with such baggage of the past that Vipul Amrutlal Shah spins together a tale of a father with all the riches in the bank and no time left to enjoy them. He is audacious, showing such wilful disrespect to the past that one wonders if it ever existed! It is cast in the first bin on the highway of life. Nobody complains, nobody laments. And unlike the previous "Waqt" which made you smile, sigh and even cry, this one is just a blast! A real, rollicking comedy with just a bit of emotion thrown in, with some of the most natural comic sequences that one has seen in recent times. Probably not since "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron" - yes, that yardstick of keeping laughs flowing - has a comedy endeared itself to all sections of the audiences with such felicity. Amitabh Bachchan and Boman Irani complement each other so instinctively, so intuitively that never does one realise that the two have barely worked with each other in the past! Add to that a truly restrained performance by Rajpal Yadav as a top-empty, handle-with-care guy, and you get some comic sequences, which stay with you many, many hours after the last joke would have been shared. The best part of this relationship is the timing and almost never does anything go out of hand or over the top.

So, "Waqt" provides us with plenty of moments to remember. And smile. But that is not the only reason why "Waqt" leaves its imprint. Oh! The cinematography is brilliant. Everything, from colourful sets, to wonderful bungalows to Jaisalmer sand to Morocco and Greece's crests and troughs of water, everything is so wonderful.

So, "Waqt" has nice locales, wonderful comedy. Right? Well, only partially. It also has an endearingly subtle performance by Shefali Shah as Bachchan's wife. Her eyes convey the intensity denied to her by the lack of lines.

She gets good support from Priyanka Chopra. Oh no, she is not ready to step beyond her drop-dead gorgeous looks even as Akshay Kumar's wife, living in an outhouse with a man earning not a penny. But she packs in enough emotion in her few sentences that you believe somewhere, someday she might just surprise us with a performance for the memory bank.

Talking of memory bank, is Shah's "Waqt" one for that treasure trove? Umm. Not quite. But it could well have been there, somewhere among the best. But the way things turn out in the second half, it falls short. By a fair distance. And a film that could have been great and memorable is reduced to one that is good and lively without challenging those perched right up there.

Yes, this film where Bachchan plays a millionaire whose riches and jives are only matched by Irani, is actually a father-son tale. Here the postman-father gets rich the hard way, the son gets everything on a platter. Superb scope for building an emotional drama, one would say. But that is when the film sinks to melodrama, hyperbole reigns as the director struggles to keep his grip on the script.

Some of the sidelights could have been avoided. Some of the fanfare banished. And some more jokes added. That way, Shah's "Waqt" would be something to come back whenever life got tough, when the going was less than smooth. But the way, the melodrama creeps in, and theatre merges with cinema, you feel, okay one visit is fine. Yes, visit this one once for sure. You will smile, you will laugh. You will talk about the jokes. Time will flow. Really, "waqt ki har shae ghulam".

ZIYA US SALAM

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