The often underrated Arshad Warsi is talented enough to be able to live up to the name of the titular character. He can do literally anything as an actor. But should he?
If you look for the answer to that question in this particular film, it would be a huge NO many times over. Warsi certainly deserves better.
Mr Joe B Carvalho, directed by first-timer Samir Tewari, is a comedy of terrors in which anything goes. It is utterly unfunny and riddled with mindless gags that drag beyond acceptable limits.
Warsi, who on his part plunges headlong into the poorly written pivotal role, stands tall among the ruins.
While everyone else in the cast unabashedly hams it up in an attempt to be cartoonish, he stays within the parameters of conventional screen acting.
Surrounded by a bunch of buffoons, he follows his own arc. That is Warsi’s forte: he is remarkably effortless. He can spout punch lines with a straight face and a minimum of fuss.
But the Mr Joe B Carvalho screenplay is such a pathetic mess that there is little that he can do to prevent the film from sinking into a morass of its own making.
Warsi plays a mamma’s boy struggling to make it beyond the mundane and the meaningless as a small-time Bengaluru private eye.
In his quest for a truly challenging case that can bring in money and fame and change his fortunes for good, he stumbles upon a conspiracy that is enough to drive him – and the audience – nuts.
The case hinges on a couple of weddings that everybody is out to scuttle.
The antagonists are Carlos, a lollypop-sucking international terrorist in drag (Javed Jaffery); a moneyed Khurana (Shakti Kapoor) whose daughter has eloped with a bawarchi supposedly double her age; and a certain underworld busybody called MK (Vijay Raaz), who has been roped in to queer the pitch.
The detective-protagonist ends up in the terrorist’s hotel room during his search for the runaway daughter and, in the bargain, is mistaken for a killer.
Both MK and Joe’s ex-girlfriend and police officer Shantipriya Phadnis (Soha Ali Khan) are on his trail. Our man, of course, has no clue where he is headed.
Also somewhere in this convoluted jigsaw puzzle is an “African’ who answers to the name of General Kopa Bhalerao Kabana and speaks with a Marathi accent.
If one has the stomach for a film as insuffereable as this, you might also spot a fireworks trader Virani (Ranjeet) and a hired shooter Malik (singer Babul Supriyo). Mercifully, they are both bumped off before they begin to get on the nerves.
But there is no respite from the rest of the moronic lot all the way until the climax.
The film tries very, very hard to be smart. All it manages to be is downright silly.
Arshad Warsi is the only bright spot in this blob of darkness. He strives to give the underdog-hero a semblance of sense. But a wreck is a wreck.
Soha Ali Khan does a Salman Dabangg Khan send-up, dives into a swimming pool in a two-piece swimsuit and even performs a seduction number. Full marks for effort, zero for impact.
Its worst aberration is the character of Joe’s mom (Himani Shivpuri), a sightless woman who is repeatedly made the butt of ridicule. She falls off balconies and terraces for laughs.
Nobody has clearly told the makers of Mr Joe B Carvalho that it is in extremely bad taste to poke fun at disability. This film should have been denied a censor certificate on that ground alone.
Be warned. Jo bhi karlo but stay well clear of Mr Joe B Carvalho if you value your money – and sanity.
This film deserves only half a star for that is all that it offers – Arshad Warsi at half tilt.