In De Dana Dan Johnny Lever plays a hitman named Kala. He sits down in a coffee shop and introduces himself to someone: "hello, I’m Kala. The guys says: toh maine kab bola gora hai. This low-IQ, college canteen humour made me laugh, and it is as good as it gets in the film. The movie starts out funny but gradually becomes more and more exhausting. The film sticks to what seems to have become the standard formula for Bollywood comedies.
Many characters with different agendas get together in one location. What follows is misunderstood identities, slaps, Tom and Jerry style chases and cartoonish violence.
You recall Daddy Cool, Do Knot Disturb, All the Best – De Dana Dan is one more from that school of laughter.
Akshay Kumar, the reason this film got made, plays Nitin, a glorified servant who works for someone called Singapore’s Cruella de Ville, playted by Archana Puran Singh. The only thing she loves is money and her dog named Moolchand ji.
Nitin who is poor is desperate and kidnaps the dog hoping to get rich on the ransom but Moolchand ji is smarter.
The dog escapes and the police believe that Nitin is the victim.
There are around 22 characters in the film and soon every one lands up in a hotel. The hotel must have given rooms and shooting premises for free because the camera seems to pan to its name and exterior façade between every shot. And of course, the slaps, chases and violence that I mentioned follow.
Some of this strictly low-brow humour is fun. Akshay, in full throttle, energises the lame scenes and keeps the momentum going for the first half. But in the second, he does a disappearing act.
He gets shut in a cupboard and the film goes into free-fall.
We see Shakti Kapoor attempting to bed Neha Duphia who in turn attempts to bed Vikram Gokhale.
Meanwhile, Johnny Lever is trying to kill the wrong man; lots of money is being tossed around in suitcases, everybody screams and there is a wedding in progress.
The film gets more tedious as the plot gets more convoluted and by the climax, in which everyone floats around as the hotel gets flooded, I could barely keep my eyes open.
The humour is so labored that I felt like someone was beating me to laugh.
And I finally understood why the credits in many Priyadarshan films say filmed by Priyadarshan instead of directed by Priyadarshan.
Because there is little sense that someone is actually directing this circus. It feels like the actors are in a free-for all and a camera is filming the chaos.
I’m always happy to revel in pedestrian comedy but De Dana Dan feels more like work than entertainment.(NDTV)