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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Fryday, Review: Thank Devil, It’s Friday

Fryday, Review: Thank Devil, It’s Friday

A water-purifier salesman has until Friday to make his first sale, or else face the sack. A ham actor has only the Friday to make his extra-marital catch, since his wife is away for just about a day. The twain meet at the actor’s home, where the married fan of the hero is about to give in to his seductive moves, and then all hell breaks loose.

Umpteen Gujarati and English plays in Mumbai have tried and tested the formula, usually with success, since nothing succeeds quite like a bedroom farce or a sex comedy. Fryday, for its part, falls short and fails to become the romp it was beginning to shape into. Thankfully, it is redeemed by several genuine lol moments and manages to just about stay afloat. Veteran Govinda in the lead and some lesser known mortals in competent support seem to be having a ball, and that is what ultimately shows up on screen.

Making it clear that Govinda is their trump card, the makers begin the film with a dance number in which Govinda enters as Hero No. 1, and gyrates, belying his statistics of 55 years of age and 32 years in films. Two tracks run parallel in the film: 27 year-old Rajiv Chhabra’s desperate attempts at saving his job and stage actor Gagan Kapoor’s attempts at seducing his die-hard fan Bindu. A motivational guru called Manchanda charges him a fat fee and gives him a lead to Gagan’s wife Bela, who wants a water-purifier installed, but will be out of station on Fryday. Rajiv convinces her that he just has to get the installation done by Fryday, otherwise his boss will fire him, so she asks him to install it in her absence, because her husband would be home. She does not share this arrangement with Gagan, assuming that he is aware of the requirement and installing a water-purifier is no big deal.

Kapoor is on cloud nine as, according to plan, Bindu arrives at his home on her scooter and begins to succumb to his charm and guile. His home is then visited by a number of unexpected callers and one expected individual, the maid. He sends the maid packing, but is then greeted by a burglar. Since the burglar threatens to spill the beans, he lets him rob all he wants. A couple of girls seeking donation arrive soon afterwards, and are shooed away by a grumpy Gagan. A courier land up too. Next, the doorbell rings again, to Gagan’s ‘caller tune’, ‘Mata sabko pyaree hae (the Goddess is dear to all)’ and here comes Rajiv. There’s more is store. Bela returns earlier than usual, Rajiv’s purifier fixer Sunny arrives too and then a police inspector, Ranpal, rings the bell. Hold your breath—he is Bindu’s husband. On Gagan’s insistence and pleading, they all play act, defining wrong relationships with each other and changing them again and again, all to protect Gagan from the wrath of his wife.

Fryday’s story is credited to Rajeev Kaul and screenplay credits are shared between him and Manurishi Chadha. Chadha has penned the dialogue, with additional dialogue coming from Meghvrat Singh Gurjar. It is a farce, out and out, with no originality. Errors abound too. Why would Bindu come for an extra-marital fling on her own scooter and park it at Gagan’s door? How did the Inspector get Gagan’s wife’s address, even if he found the phone she had left behind? Is swallowing screws the only way to get rid of them? Cinematic licence is being sold at a premium here.

Abhishek Dogra plays safe in his debut venture, by going the farce and laughter route. You can go wrong here, but the chances of still making an impact on the lowest common denominator are rather high. He milks Govinda’s talent to the hilt. In one scene, when he is wooing Bindu, he mimics several stars, mostly of yesteryear. In the stage adaptation of Mughal-e-Azam, he recites the dialogue of almost all the other actors in the play himself, having the audience rolling on the floor. But is this even possible? What’s more, nobody does anything about it, even as the actors grimace. Clever use is made of the mispronunciation of the word ‘Sheqhoo’, the name Emperor Akbar gave to his son Prince Salim. The actor playing Akbar pronounces it as “Sekoo,” raising some more laughs. Not to let Varun Sharma be outdone, he gets him to do the mandir scene of Deewar, originally performed by Amitabh Bachchan some 44 years ago.

Govinda is Govinda, and it is his brand of comedy that is showcased here, with most of his comic timing intact. The dialogues he mouths are a delight to the hoi polloi. Dances are cleverly shot, not exposing too much of him, lest age begin to show. Varun Sharma (Fukrey, Dilwale, Connection) as the chubby Rajiv fits the role remarkably well. Sanjay Mishra as Manchanda is Sanjay Mishra, in a tailor-made role. Brijendra Kala as the burglar is too soft-spoken but at least his diction is clear, for a change.

Rajesh Sharma as Inspector Ranpal is a delight to watch, as usual. Digangana Suryavanshi as Bindu is precocious and sexy. Ishtiyak Khan as Sunny gets a meaty role and makes the most of it. As Bela, Prabhleen Sandhu looks the gullible housewife, until we learn better. Atul Mathur is the Sekhoo man, with whom you sympathise one moment and one you ridicule for his linguistic disability the next. Akbar’s wife, Jodha, is played by Swati Kaushik and Shivani Rai is cast as Anarkali, Salim’s love interest. Can’t remember seeing Manoj Bakshi before but he is in his element as the owner of the Pavitra Pani (Holy Water) Water Purifier company.

At 1hour 54 minutes, the film is just about right in length. Comedies are hard to enact over long durations.

Many of the laughs in Fryday are guilty ones, and the whole premise is adultery. But hey, this is fiction and entertainment, escapist and ‘therapist’. You could savour some guilty pleasures, like cheap chocolate. It’s cheap, but it is still chocolate! It’s devilish sin time, so no wonder Friday is Fryday. Sensitive cinegoers, keep away, unless you see merit in Govinda groping Digangana, who is wrapped in a curtain, and describing what he lays his hands on. On the other hand, time-pass wallahs, this could be your day.

Rating: **


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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