Okay, let's me be fair to Pagalpanti at the start itself. The film isn't half-bad as the humourless trailers had suggested. On the contrary, there are some decent laughs in the film arising out of the situation humour of the premise and the comic timing of the actors. Pagalpanti, directed by Anees Bazmee, is like most of his films - a screwball comedy that shouldn't really make sense. Unfortunately, even in the case of such films, writing and editing should be strong for the movie to work out well. Case in point, Rajkumar Santoshi's Andaz Apna Apna. Pagalpanti Movie Review: John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Arshad Warsi’s Comedy Film Is Funny in Small Doses, but Loses Itself to Poor Writing and Cheap Patriotism.
In the case of Pagalpanti, though, these two aspects let down the film big time, especially in the second half. The narrative borrows ideas from other comedy films like Golmaal, AAA, and even Bazmee's own films, especially Welcome. In fact, Pagalpanti feels like an inferior clone of the Akshay Kumar starrer in spirit. Pagalpanti: Before the Release of Anil Kapoor, John Abraham-Starrer, Ranking All Anees Bazmee Comedies From Worst to Best!
If the screwball humour of Pagalpanti surprised you in being good at times, some bad writing and editing decisions are bound to put you off. Pagalpanti stars Anil Kapoor, John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, Ileana D'Cruz, Pulkit Samrat, Urvashi Rautela, Kriti Kharbanda and Saurabh Shukla in the lead.
In this feature, let's look at the 11 WTF moments in the film that will either make you cringe or leave you stunned.
The Cracker Shop Gag
We are introduced to the three male protagonists - Raj (John Abraham), Junky (Arshad Warsi) and Chandu (Pulkit Samrat) in the first scene as they are ready to start their new business. In the same scene, we also get to know about Raj's bad luck charm that brings ruin wherever he goes. So what about their new business? It's a fire-cracker shop. When the pundit points out what's new about this, Junky says it's an original idea.
I really don't know if the writers were trying to spoof here, since Warsi had done a similar scene in Golmaal 3, that also ends with the firecracker business going bust. Perhaps, opening a cracker shop in London might feel original to the writers.
The Song Placements
Anees Bazmee can't do one thing right since he started making movies - do a proper intro for his main characters. Or find a decent way to insert songs. The first song, the remake of Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya track "Atke Jhatke", played during the opening credits, appears randomly after the above comedy scene and even brings in Ileana's character, whose intro happens in the scene after.
The same goes for the "Wallah Wallah" song, that happens in a dream sequence that comes out of nowhere. Even the Urvashi Rautela ghost song is suddenly brought in without any proper setup.
So Many Deaths in A Comedy Film
For a comedy film, there are so many killings that don't have any consequences. Case in point, the climax where the villain shoots down several henchmen, but is arrested only for money laundering. Or the first car-chase sequence, where the heroes, driving a delivery truck are chased by Sanjana (Ileana), her maama (Brijendra Kala) and their hired goons.
During the chase, a few of the goons' cars are destroyed, presumably killing the occupants. As what is supposed to be a funny sidepiece, a road construction worker who was distracted by the chase accidentally kills his colleague in the process. Even for a screwball comedy, these number of deaths feel Deadpool 2 kind of stupid. And even after the bloody mess, the heroes get away scot-free, while Sanjana and her uncle are only arrested for fraud. Is this really London or Mirzapur?
PNB, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi Spoof
Pagalpanti's main antagonist is Niraj Modi (Inaamulhaq), a Gujrati businessman and kingpin, who flees India after siphoning thousands of crores of rupees from a bank where Raj was working. That bank is called PMB.
This is clearly a spoof on the fugitive entrepreneur Nirav Modi who scammed the PNB bank and fled to London IRL. If that wasn't enough, this Niraj Modi also has an uncle who looks suspiciously similar to Nirav's uncle, Mehul Choksi, also fugitive IRL.
The President of the United States of America is mentioned twice in the film. The second time is in a conversation between Raj and Junky, the latter telling the former that his arrival in the US would make Trump upset (thanks to his bad luck).
The first time is more of a subtle visual gag. When Junky and Chandu are hospitalised after a bomb escape, the pads attached at the end of their beds mention their doctors' names. One has Dr Donald, and the other has Dr Trump. Geddit?
In the movie, there are quite a few scenes where one character makes a statement (mostly nonsensical) and the others pat his or her back for what he or she just said. At the start, I thought this might be some idea for a gag, but then doubts begin to creep in that the writers actually think those lines are funny or smashing and are congratulating themselves through these characters.
Another huge instance of self-appeasement is when Wifi Bhai (Anil Kapoor) assigns a task to the trio, Junky says they already had plans, which includes watching a movie called Pagalpanti! That's even worse kind of self-meta-ing, than the niece of Anil Kapoor's character being called... err... Janhvi!
Post interval, there is another chase scene where Junky, Raj, Chandu, Janhvi, Sanjana and her uncle hitch a ride on mini-truck carrying barrels of Instant Glue. They are being chased by Wifi, Raja (Saurabh Shukla) and their men. At one point, some glue flies out of the barrel and Janhvi's lips get stuck to Chandu's cheek. Sanjana's back also gets stuck to her uncle's while Junky and Raj use pichkaris to put glue on everyone else.
While the childish gag does start out on a funny note, it is stretched far beyond our patience. We are also never shown how Chandu and Janhvi manage to get themselves out of the sticky situation, since we are told that the glue is very difficult to remove!
Urvashi Rautela Loophole
When the gang meets Urvashi's character in a haunted mansion, they think of her as a ghost and run away. It's only later they realise that she is fake and when confronted, she says she is an actress called Kavya who was hired by a man to keep people off the property. Later, we find out that the man is none other than Niraj Modi, who has hidden his siphoned wealth beneath the grounds, which is discovered by Raj.
So far, so good. The issue comes when the gang uses Niraj's stolen money to pay off his debts and buy his properties, and the man is clueless where they got the money from. Which means that despite being cunning enough to rob a huge bank, Niraj is an idiot. He should have caught their fib right at the start after seeing Kavya, a girl he hired himself, with the gang and realised it was his money after all.
"Aey Watan Tere Liye"
It looks like John Abraham is becoming worse than Akshay Kumar when it comes to shoehorning patriotism in every movie. At least, Akshat did spare us the nationalism in Housefull 4. Not so much the case with Pagalpanti. The gang uses the nationalist sentiments to make Wifi Bhai revolt against Niraj Modi, saying how many innocents' lives back home were destroyed when the latter ran away with their money.
Not only does the scene invoke random cheap attempt at stoking patriotic sentiments, but it also feels tasteless using a financial tragedy for many just to get sentimental moments. And when the characters begin to chorus on the Karma song "Ae Watan Tere Liye", all you can do is cringe. To be fair, at least, they didn't play the National Anthem, like Salman Khan did in Bharat.
Don't Steal From Andaz Apna Apna
Anees Bazmee isn't exactly original when it comes to his films. Most of the movies he made are remakes. And if they are not, some of the scenes might be ripped off other movies. In some cases it might be both, like with Welcome, that was inspired by the Hugh Grant-starrer Mickey Blue Eyes, while the climax was inspired by the Kamal Haasan film, Michael Madan Kama Rajan.
In the case of Pagalpanti, one of the gags in the climax is lifted straight off from, shudder, Andaz Apna Apna. Remember the scene where Amar-Prem uses fake diamonds to lure Crime Master Gogo's men to revolt against their own boss and run away with the loot? A similar tactic is used by Raj to make Modi's men turn against him.
Palampur ka Singam aur Simmba
The ludicrous climax is not only long and OTT, but also wastes more time by introducing three escaping lions in the mayhem. It does have a couple of funny moments, like Rajaji trying to stand like a statue, with a lion around, or Janhvi wanting to take a selfie.
But apart from that, the gag does little to justify its presence, and obviously CGI-ed lions feel like they are borrowed from Ajay Devgn's Total Dhamaal. Also, what the obsession with Bollywood filmmakers of adding random animals in the climaxes of their comedy movies?