The odd-couple pairing of Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan apart, this madcap whirligig has little on offer by way of innate allure.
The fundamental concept of Ghanchakkar is intriguing all right, but it simply isn’t sturdy enough to bear the weight of an entire two hour-plus film.
It presses a 1980s plot device into the service of what is meant to be a new age comic thriller and inevitably comes a cropper.
Three guys pull off a bank heist, one of the robbers suffers a memory loss, and the booty goes missing.
The pace of this black comedy is so somnolent that all the characters, and not just the ‘lazy lad’ of the film’s quirky opening song, appear to be sleepwalking through it all.
What makes the film worse is that none of the handful of players is a rounded figure that the audience can relate to.
This film about a man’s lost yaadasht and the complications that it sparks off seems destined to be quickly forgotten.
Ghanchakkar, if it is remembered at all, will go down as an ill-advised change of pace for Raj Kumar Gupta, the maker of the memorable Aamir and No One Killed Jessica.
At the heart of Ghanchakkar are a couch potato (Emraan Hashmi) who is an all but retired cat burglar and his garrulous wife (Vidya Balan) who has a fetish for strappy nightwear.
The loquacious lady’s antics in the bedroom are only mildly diverting and the listless lumbering of the spaced-out man that she shares the apartment with does not help matters.
The hubby, after much prodding, decides to accept the tempting offer of one final job from a duo of small-time goons.
One is an avuncular and glib conspirator (Rajesh Sharma) and a jaunty young accomplice (Namit Das) given to brandishing his revolver at the slightest provocation.
The trio plots the bank robbery in a midnight meeting in a compartment of a local train.
At the appointed hour, the three men, wearing Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Utpal Dutt masks, raid and loot the bank. The safecracker is given the responsibility of hiding the stash of cash until the heat is off.
Three months and an unspecified accident later, the male protagonist, struck by amnesia, has no remembrance of where he has kept the money.
The rigmarole that ensues revolves around the hero’s struggle to recall exactly what he did that night and his two angry accomplice’s desperate attempts to get their share of the plunder.
Despite its surprise ending, Ghanchakkar fails to engage. It is overstretched, flimsy and ineffectual. The screenplay (credited to Parveez Shaikh and director Raj Kumar Gupta) stutters along without much purpose.
The characters are half-baked and aren’t given any context at all. Especially feckless is the figure of the hausfrau who reads Vogue and Cosmo for fashion inspiration and then goes and dons the most outlandish of outfits.
Neither the husband nor the audience is inveigled. The lady is Punjabi, so she is cheerfully robust and adds a shrill haayn to the end of every sentence to convey a wide range of emotions, from bewilderment to indignation.
And, needless to say, her ‘minute’ is ‘mint’, her bharosa is bhrosa, and her galat is galt. In the ultimate analysis, she is hardly worth the salt that she wastes on her inept cooking.
The two criminals who drag the couple into trouble are no better. The screenplay provides no insight into where they have come from and what they are up to. Not that anybody cares.
As for the hero, he has a valid excuse for making a fool of himself. He is after all out of his mind – and depth.
Ghanchakkar tries very, very hard to raise a few laughs. You might hear a chuckle here and a giggle there, but the comic situations are far too laboured to leave a lasting impression.
In a film about a man who has lost his memory, an allusion to Ghajini is inevitable.
At the dinner table, where much of the film plays out, one guy declares that it is a Salman Khan film, another believes that it featured Shahrukh Khan, while a third passes it off as a Saif Ali Khan starrer. Would Aamir be amused?
In another scene, the hero orders red wine on the phone. The voice at the other end of the line wants to know where the bottle has to be delivered. The poor bloke is stumped.
He steps out of the door to check the number of his flat, then goes all the way down to the main gate to read the name of the housing society, and finally walks a little further to ascertain what the street is called. Funny? Hardly.
Ghanchakkar is strictly for those that are easy to tickle and shock. One character, the one with the gun, sums it up best: “I don’t know what is going on and who is taking whom for a ride.” Heed the warning!