Starring: Vinay Pathak, Mahie Gill, Saurabh Shukla, Mona Singh, Sanjay Mishra
Directed by Srikanth V. Velagaleti
Utt Pataang starts quite promisingly. It feels like an attempt to relocate Woody Allen in Bombay. So there are eccentric, edgy, almost neurotic characters, nursing broken hearts and desperately longing for love. There is the regular guy Vinay Pathak who has been ditched by his rough and foul-mouthed lady love Mahie Gill. Mona Singh is the small-town girl who has been betrayed by her boyfriend and she deduces this from the menthol cigarette butt with lipstick mark and a used condom on the backseat of their car. Vinay and Mona are thrown together one night and seek comfort in each other. The film relies heavily on the spoken word, moving ahead from one long conversation to another, almost giving the feel of a play. So far so good, a rather in-your-face Amul Taaza product placement notwithstanding. Then things take a turn from love to crime as quirky goons go chasing a bagful of crores belonging to a French-loving don (Pathak in a double role). There’s also Saurabh Shukla playing a rather clueless, inept detective. Here on, Srikanth Velagaleti gets ambitious, perhaps a bit much so. He is very obviously influenced by the newer modes of story-telling in the western world. So one scene unfolds from several points of view, the varied narrative strands move apart and come together, the motley characters and their destinies intersect time and again. Even as the poster of Godard’s A Bout de Souffle hangs in the background. No doubt the director wants to make the story-telling deep and complex but it gets unnervingly complicated and needlessly heavy and tedious. The dialogue is crisp and some scenes have a deadpan humour, like when Shukla tells visitor Mahie he has coffee powder for only one cup and goes ahead and pours it for himself. All the actors are accomplished but still can’t hold the film together. Of them the one sore point is Mahie. The impressive Paro of Dev D hams here and how!