Humshakals redefines dreadfulness

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      Starring Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, and Ram Kapoor. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rating unavailable. Now playing

      Having made a career out of moronic slapstick comedies, director Sajid Khan has created a new unit of measurement with Humshakals. Henceforth it will be used to determine the dreadfulness of films of this genre.

      Ashok (Saif Ali Khan) is the heir to a business empire, which he has been running since his father fell into a coma. He is assisted in this and all things by his friend Kumar (Riteish Deshmukh). Ashok’s evil uncle (Ram Kapoor) conspires to steal his company by incapacitating him. His method of choice is a serum that will instantly turn one’s psyche into a dog. (Yes, that just happened.) By these means Ashok and Kumar are committed to an asylum.

      Here we meet the doppelgängers we were promised in the title of the film. Another pair, conveniently with the same names, are patients who have been tortured into insanity by a local drug dealer. Eventually a third pair will be introduced producing a triple role for these actors. The three female leads simply exist to look dazed at all times.

      The entire plot is consumed by the allegedly comedic confusion that ensues when these various characters are mistaken for each other. This film is offensive on multiple levels, but particularly in its caricature of mental illness in a manner that hasn’t been funny for decades. The music and choreography offer no respite as they are pitched at the level of a preschool talent show. A case in point is the earworm “Caller Tune”.

      All the actors are deplorable in their roles including the large troupe of non-Indian extras who nod when spoken to in Hindi and generally look uncomfortable.

      This movie is the absolute bottom of the cinematic barrel and claiming that ground definitively is its only accomplishment.