Three average-income families come apart when the menfolk lose their jobs.
`Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya`
In a middle-class housing colony live three MCPs, Appu Khote (Johny Lever), Ravi (Chandrachur Singh) and Vijay (Vinay Anand). They are married to Vimla (Ketaki Dave), Reena (Tabu) and Anjali (Isha Koppikar) respectively. In a complete reversal of roles from what`s happening with these couples, their neighbour Jhumri (Juhi Chawla) goes to work while her `sajanwa` (Govinda) takes care of the house. When the three men lose their jobs, Jhumri helps their women find work. Soon, all hell breaks loose as the men abhor the notion of living off their wives` income.
The title makes you think that this is going to be one of those comedies that satirize those living beyond their means. But `Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya` is actually about women`s emancipation (isn`t it a little late for this sort of thing?). It`s a `social entertainer`, surely a dying breed in our cinema, that tries to make points about the ills in our society by sugarcoating them with pleasing aspects.
Which means that you`ll have an item song (which actually goes `item hai`!) with chorus dancers doing PT exercises (probably due to director Raghavendra Rao waxing nostalgic about his `Himmatwala` days) in matching red outfits, then yellow, then blue. And soon after, you have someone going `Aurat agar Saraswati hai to Durga bhi hai`.
One of the first attempts at humour is when the landlord (Tiku Talsania) approaches Vimla and says that he`s her `gharwala`, meaning house owner. Of course, she interprets it as `gharwala`, meaning husband, and begins to freak out. This sets the tone for what to expect in forthcoming reels.
Surely enough, you have a scene in which Appu lights up a firecracker mistaking it for a cigarette. An exasperated Vijay cries out, `This is too much, three much, magarmach`. The three clueless husbands try their hand at cooking with ingredients that actually turn out to be castor oil and rat poison. And the background score comes up with stock Chaplinesque sounds to cue you to laughter.
Depending on what you find funny, you`ll crack up at parts either because things are indeed hilarious or due to your disbelief that such things actually pass for comedy. There`s nothing wrong with lowbrow humour, but just as things keep reaching an engaging level of silliness, you are suddenly dealt messages of how men and women are actually equal.
What`s really tragic is that Govinda and Juhi, two of the finest when it comes to crackpot comedy, are just in a few scenes. The rest of the film leaves us with an assorted cast that mistakes frantic for funny. That is, when they are not singing women`s lib songs (sample lyric: `tum chai ho to hum pyaale hain`) with men in drag and female cops/lawyers/doctors prancing in the background.
Tabu tries valiantly to make sense of her terribly regressive role. Isha`s glam-doll looks make you wonder why she`s supposed to be wanting for money. Vinay Anand is mind-bogglingly theatrical, and you can`t help feeling sorry for Chandrachur`s plight since his fine debut in `Maachis`. Only Johny Lever and `a ra ra ra` Ketaki Dave infuse some spirit, however loud, into the proceedings. Sayaji Shinde and Ranjeet (yes, the same guy responsible for terrorizing all the seventies` heroines) also make an appearance.
Coming right after the incredibly lush K3G, you feel the woeful inattention towards this film`s technical aspects. The music by Himesh Reshamiyya is no great shakes either. But the biggest head-scrambler is the screenplay.
One of the lines trotted out is that men are respected if they step out of the house and work, but women aren`t. Really? And here I am thinking that there are hardly any urban middle-class families today which are not double-income. In addition, there`s a drug dealer (an annoying Shakti Kapoor), a cabaret dancer who is supposed to take care of kids, and a climax in which that oldest of reconciliation devices, an ailing child, is brought to play.
I`m sure there must be an audience for this somewhere. It would be interesting to find out where.
Moral of the story: Beware any comedy that casts Govinda and has him described by downtrodden women as an `insaaniyat ki moorat`. Come to think of it, that`s funnier than anything in the rest of the film.
This review was written by Baradwaj Rangan. If you have any comments on this review, post a message on our message boards or write to: email@example.com