HumShakals–Not a Review

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I haven’t seen Humshakals.

After becoming a father and with the World Cup on, free-time is at such a premium that I don’t think I would have a few hours to destroy on something I have already seen before.

I know I just contradicted myself.

I have seen Humshakals.

As a matter of fact I have seen it many times.

It’s what used to pass off as comedy in the days of single-screens. Rakesh Bedi in “Afsana Pyar Ka”  pretending to be blind so that he can feel up girls.  Shakti Kapoor in Raja Babu with his Hitler moustache, speech impediment and intellectual disability. Mehmood in black-face dancing to Hum Kaale Hai To Kya Hua in Hua in Gumnaam right after a comedy bit where Helen tells him “Shut up you kaala aadmi”.

I could go on but then I would be guilty of Sajid Khanian repeated poking in eye excess, so I will simply state my point.

Hindi movies have had an inglorious tradition of decades of making fun of Madrasis, Bangalees, Sardarjees, Chinese, gay men (visual cue: effeminate), cross-dressers, dark-colored people, Africans, fat people, all in various cliched, unimaginative, juvenile and deeply offensive ways.

Why? For the same reason they had the rain song, with the white sari clinging to the soft contours.

The audience loved it.

And as Sajid Khan unleashes “Humshakals” and it marches towards 40 crores at the time of writing, the truth once again stares at us in the face.

The audience still loves it.  And if Humshakals do not make you believe that, try to sit through a few seconds of various “Comedy Shows” or even of Jhalak Dikh La Ja,  where the audience bursts into peals of laughter just because there is a man on stage dressed as a woman.

Of course if you read the papers you would think Humshakals would sink without a trace. Each and every reviewer, the boughts to the knowledgeables, have savaged “Humshakals”. Not just the critics, all over social media, people are aghast at how utterly senseless, unfunny and offensive “Humshakals” is.

The verdict is unanimous.

Humshakals is the pits.

And yet it has made 40 crores in a few days. Now that’s some serious cash for a movie with no Khan (Saif doesn’t count as Khan any more) or Kumar or Kapoor, even accounting for possible over-reporting of revenues.

How does that happen?

Sajid Khan, together with brother-in-law Sirish Kunder, are two of Bollywood’s most hated directors. It’s not just because they are considered to make bad movies. By that token, everyone would be hated. No. They are hated because they are brash and arrogant. They poke fun at other people in the industry, and yes, because they make worse films than those whom they trash.

The only difference is while Sirish Kunder makes crap that bombs, Sajid Khan makes crap that succeeds (a one-of Himmatwala aside).

The reason for that is while the former is clueless, the latter most definitely is not.

Sajid Khan breathes Bollywood. Those who have followed him from his wildly original breakout “Kahene Mein Kya Harj Hai” days know that. He was a pioneer in many ways, introducing the concept of making fun of “so bad it’s good” Bollywood cliches, scenes, characters and movies at a time when no one else did this kind of comedy in India. His perspective as a comic was one of superiority, it was almost as if he was telling the audience “Haha look how shitty these movies are”. Yet he was a fan too, because unless you were  a die hard devotee no one would consume as much Bollywood as he did. Which was kind of strange, but I totally got it, because I felt the same way about Bollywood.

In one of the “Making of “shorts on Youtube on “Humshakals” (I had time to see that), he says about one of his heroines something like “Yeh doctor kam aur model zyada lagti hai” before breaking into uproarious laughter.

Its like he is talking about someone else’s film in “Kahene Mein Kya Harj Hai” , but of course he isn’t.

What he is doing is very deliberately producing crap, and that act itself amuses him greatly.

Because for Sajid Khan, and this is a hypothesis of mine with nothing behind it but conjecture, the whole process of making a film is one gigantic gag, with multiple laugh lines.

Make a so bad it’s good film in the best traditions of old-world Bollywood. Throw in a few Bollywood in-references for his own amusement. Laugh.

Make the film as offensive and moronic as possible. Don’t miss a single stereotype. Raise hat to old Bollywood. Get people angry and offended. Laugh again. Because he can.

Let the critics savage the film. Throw a success party and go on channels saying “I am the greatest and reviewers are frustrated morons. Lightning-road more hate. Laugh once more.

Look at box office numbers. Be smug about being right about the fact that people were exactly like as they were before.

Laugh the biggest laugh.

Which is all well and good and I wish him the best.

As for me, a once-fan, I am done. His whole shtick  has become predictable and , though I mildly enjoyed Housefull 2 for its quirky in-references to some of my favorite Bollywood films (did not watch Himmatwala), there is only so much one of the same thing one can take.

So goodbye Mr. Sajid Khan. I no longer want to be part of your joke.

 

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23 thoughts on “HumShakals–Not a Review

  1. BTW.. fun fact not sure if you know, but sajid khan directed one of the short stories in darna zaroori hai starring manoj pahwa and an imaginary ghost. quite an interesting beginning for someone who ends up like this…… i guess its destiny fulfilled as every time he announces a flick its DARNA ZAROORI HAI !!

  2. Greatbong, do you remember even before the Kehne mein kya harz hai days (late 90s), Sajid Khan used to host a show called Ikke pe Ikka (mid 90s) on Zee TV? That’s when I first thought what great fun it would be to see this man as a funny guy in movies..and then he acted in ‘Jhooth bole kauwa kaate’ and the myth shattered..Guess poking fun is what he’s good at, not being funny/making funny movies..

    • And who can forget the ugly Sajid-Ashutosh Gowariker altercation at an awards ceremony a few years back..At that time I was leaning towards Sajid in support of artistic liberty, but cut to 2014 and I have serious doubts if that was about only about freedom of speech..

    • Used to enjoy ikke pe ikke. from what i remember it also had Suresh Menon in it playing various roles. Don’t remember his joke from back then, but i do remember that i enjoyed his show

  3. I don’t think I have ever watched S.K’s movies. And I do watch a lot of hindi (crap) movies. But bardaash ki koi haad hoti hai. Am not into self-torture.

  4. Vivek Nair almost stole my words. I considered Sajid Khan as a very intelligent bollywood fan after Ikke pe Ikka. Was quite enthusiastic about jhooth bole … but the promos itself was such a turn off that I did not bother seeing it.

    His sister BTW makes the same kind of movies … in-jokes and masala of 70s gone horribly wrong.

    One of my friend (incidentally, Bengali) who is a very big bollywood fan (and very very uncritical) calls this family sajid-farah-kunder as a bollywood destroyer family. It is somewhat rare for him to criticize bollywood (he reserves that exclusively for hollywood, if at all he watches it) … so coming from him it is quite a statement … and i cant agree more.

  5. Great read. Actually, I have watched the movie and found it very appropriate for the general Indian mindset. Those who are abusing him for offending homosexuals don’t bother to abuse Shahrukh as “SRGay”, as if, Gay is an abuse!!

  6. GB I hope you are criticizing the movie for the repetitive bad jokes (which in this movie happen to be offensive), not that jokes were offensive in themselves that they bother your conscience. I think offensive jokes if done cleverly can be very funny and I don’t mind them one bit.

  7. Lots of problems in india has root cause …imposing of english. We even want our children to cry in english. We are getting dumb and slow. We like sajid’s crap as we stopped giving importance to native language and consequently the literature and art in hindi. A rural guy cant learn english and does not have inclination to learn and work in hindi (native language) due to lack of opportunity. In programmers terms …if we choose to work on phonegap/titanium instead of native language(java, objective C) then outcome would be slow. Multiplex culture has though changed things a lot.

  8. He is like AAP. Good in criticising but can’t handle the job himself. Anyway that 40 crore figure is a lie. It mainly consists of music & satellite rights sold before release. Actual money made is some 1 crore a day. The data is available on trade websites. Also the movie cost 75 crore to make. So it’s going to be a bigger flop than himmatwala.

  9. @sunnyhasblog, please give me your email/ home address. Forget the ipad, I will ship a massive imac to you for your god-forsaken comment linking it SK’s movies to native language v/s english debate. I am surprised that you stopped there and didn’t advance your theory to include general relativity and quantum mechanics behind the success of Humshakals.

  10. @sunnyhasblog the train of thought that connects slowness and interpreted languages and native languages and english hindi divide to this abomination of sajid khan’s is surely headed for derailment. the most harmless comment i can offer to your thoughts is – “Who is your dealer?” :)

  11. Used to like his show Ikke pe ikka. It ran for many years, it was good but sometimes crappy. He also used to have good bollywood trivia on his show. My favorite joke of his was

    Mukesh Bhat says to Mahesh Bhat: mere pas bunglow hai, paisa hai, filme hai, tere pas kya hai?

    Mahesh Bhat: Mere pas Avtar Gill hai

    (Mahesh Bhat used to have Avtar Gill in all his movies)

    My brother and I had our own twist to it …

    Farah Khan to Sajid Khan: Mere pass choreography ke contracts hai, filme hai, shahrukh hai, tere pas kya hai?

    Sajid Khan: Mere pas Kailash Gandhi hai

    Kailash was director of Ikke pe Ikka

    Gosh I miss the 90s and already feel old

    I guess he has just gone onto making 3 hours of Ikke pe ikka and calling them movies.

  12. Some excerpts from his 1999 interview:
    It may give you some insight into the mind of Sajid Khan

    “I’m not bothered about failure or success now, I just want to try new things so that people remember me and my work. These days the comedies are really bad.“

    “ I’m like an animal, if there is no leash I’ll go mad, so I need a trainer“

    He claims to be the world’s biggest film buff and we agreed on this only when we saw his collection of films on DVD (Digital Video Disc) which runs to above 750. “I openly challenge anyone to debate with me on world cinema and I’ll crush him“


    Random thoughts of a demented mind….aren’t they?

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