Fox Star Studios and Pooja Entertainment & Films Ltd.’s Humshakals (UA) is a comedy of errors in which each of three characters have two look-alikes more.

Ashok Singhania (Saif Ali Khan) is the son of a very rich businessman (Akash Khurana). The entire burden of running the business is on Ashok’s shoulders as his father is in coma. Ashok’s bosom pal is Kumar (Ritesh Deshmukh). Ashok’s maternal uncle, Kunwar Amarnath Singh (Ram Kapoor), is a rogue and he wants to usurp the company. He has a scientist, Dr. Khan (Nawab Shah), working for him. Dr. Khan has invented a drug after consuming which a person behaves like a dog for the next 24 hours. At the company’s board meeting, Amarnath mixes the drug in Ashok’s jug of water. The water is consumed by both, Ashok and Kumar, and they soon start barking and behaving like dogs. Amarnath succeeds in his mission of convincing the board of directors that Ashok has gone mad and he, therefore, obtains a power of attorney in his name, albeit temporary.

Both, Ashok and Kumar, are admitted to a mental asylum where Dr. Khan’s trusted man keeps mixing the drug in their glasses of water so that they continue to behave like dogs. In the jail of another ward of the same mental hospital, meant for more dangerous lunatics, are lodged another Ashok (Saif Ali Khan) and his friend, Kumar (Ritesh Deshmukh), both of whom used to work in Karan T. Bijlani’s (Chunkey Panday) restaurant and who were sent to the asylum after having been administered electric shocks by their boss for serving customers cocaine-based parathas. The electric shocks make the two start behaving like kids and they become mentally deranged. In the hospital prison, warden Y.M. Raj (Satish Shah) also tortures Ashok and Kumar.

Soon, Dr. Shivani (Esha Gupta) realises that Ashok Singhania and Kumar are not mad but behave like dogs because of a drug being mixed in their glasses of water. The hospital authorities, therefore, decide to discharge the two patients but in a mix-up, the wrong Ashok and Kumar are discharged. The relieved Ashok and Kumar, who behave like children, are led to believe, they are participating in a television reality show. They start living in Ashok Singhania’s mansion. Kunwar Amarnath Singh soon realises that they are the look-alikes of Ashok Singhania and Kumar, and he decides to use them to his advantage.

In the mental asylum, Dr. Cyrus Patel (Darshan Jariwala) and Dr. Shivani introduce Ashok Singhania and Kumar to a mental patient, Johny (Ram Kapoor), a look-alike of Kunwar Amarnath Singh. Ashok and Kumar now train Johny to behave like Kunwar Amarnath Singh.

While Amarnath wants to present the mentally retarded Ashok as Ashok Singhania in front of the board of directors and make him admit before the board that he is mad and thereby make the board convert his (Amarnath’s) temporary power of attorney into a permanent one, Ashok Singhania is working at making Johny stand up as Amarnath in the board meeting and announce that Ashok Singhania is not mad, so that all the power comes back to him (Ashok Singhania). Meanwhile, Dr. Khan converts his two assistants to look like Ashok and Kumar so that now, there are three Ashoks and three Kumars. Ashok Singhania is also introduced to Balbir (Ram Kapoor), another look-alike of Amarnath.

What happens at the board meeting? Does Kunwar Amarnath Singh succeed in fooling the directors or does Ashok Singhania expose Amarnath? Does Mr. Singhania come out of the coma or does he remain comatose? What happens to Kunwar Amarnath Singh, Dr. Khan and Karan T. Bijlani? What happens to Ashok Singhania and his best friend, Kumar? What awaits Karan T. Bijlani’s employees, Ashok and Kumar?

Sajid Khan’s story is too farcical to be digested by the audience. Since the film is a comedy, the viewers would’ve overlooked logic but because the story is implausible and farcical, the absence of logic becomes difficult for them to accept at many places. Karan T. Bijlani’s employees being exact replicas of Ashok and Kumar and also having the same names, looks too far-fetched. Again, both the Ashoks being best friends with the two Kumars is taking things too far. Equally far-fetched are Amarnath’s two look-alikes. What’s even sillier is that all the look-alikes meet so easily. This makes the drama appear very convenient and contrived. Since Sajid Khan’s premise (foundation) itself is so weak, the screenplay (structure) appears to be shaky. Sajid Khan, Robin Bhatt and Akarsh Khurana have written a screenplay which takes the audience too much for granted. The writers have assumed that the viewers would lap up anything offered to them and they may have been right in their assumption if they had succeeded in dishing out a fast-paced comic fare, however mindless. But, unfortunately, the drama is not just slow, it is repetitive too. Besides, the scenes are stretched so much that they sometimes test the audience’s endurance power. Many of the comedy punches fall flat on their face. Worse still, the concerted effort to make the audience laugh is all too evident right from the first scene to the last – and because the audience actually ends up laughing in only a few scenes, the evident effort irritates. A number of comic scenes leave the viewer unimpressed and wondering what’s going on. There are some comic punches which will be appreciated by the class audience only. However, the very nature of the drama is more for the masses than the classes. All in all, the arrogance of the script gets on the audience’s nerves. Climax is routine.

Sajid Khan and Adhir Bhatt’s dialogues are funny at places only – much like the screenplay. Several dialogues will entertain only the elite audience because they are too class-appealing.

Saif Ali Khan is miscast in a mass-appealing comedy role as his image appeals more to the class audience. He does well as Ashok Singhania but his discomfiture in some over-the-top scenes, especially when he acts like a kid, is evident. Ritesh Deshmukh acts with effortless ease but even he is unable to hide his embarrassment in some scenes. Ram Kapoor does quite well but it appears like he has been given more than he can handle. His makeup leaves something to be desired. All the three leading ladies have merely ornamental roles. Tamannaah Bhatia is nice as Ashok Singhania’s girlfriend. Esha Gupta is good as Dr. Shivani. Bipasha Basu does well as Mishti, girlfriend of Kumar and personal assistant of Ashok Singhania. Satish Shah evokes laughter at some places. His character is ill-defined – he becomes gay in one scene while remaining straight in the other scenes! Akash Khurana gets limited scope in a brief role and is earnest. Chunkey Panday acts ably but he has nothing worthwhile to do. Darshan Jariwala makes his presence felt in a brief role. Nawab Shah is so-so as Dr. Khan. Ramakant Daayma (as doctor) and Guy Ingle (as Prince Charles) lend ordinary support. Suresh Menon is wasted; he is okay as Srinivasan. Kamini Khanna and the others provide average support.

Sajid Khan’s direction lacks the fire. Saddled as he is with his own weak and mindless script, he fails to infuse much life into it by way of exciting narration. Himesh Reshammiya’s music is good. The ‘Caller tune’ song is very appealing and so is its picturisation (by Ganesh Acharya). The ‘Piya ke bazaar’ song is also good and its picturisation (by Ganesh Acharya) is eye-filling. The other songs are not very good but their picturisations (Ahmed Khan) are alright. Lyrics (Sameer Anjaan, Mayur Puri and Shabbir Ahmed) match the film’s mood. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background music is fairly nice but could’ve been better. Ravi Yadav uses his camera intelligently to make the film look rich and the canvas, big. Rod’s action scenes and stunts cater to the masses and front-benchers mainly. Sets and production design (by David Bryan and Pupa Set Pvt. Ltd.) are nice. Bunty Nagi’s editing could’ve been sharper and crisper.

On the whole, Humshakals is funny only in parts and boring, by and large. Too farcical and repetitive and resting on an implausible premise, it will fail to make its mark at the box-office. Considering the investment of the distributors, it will entail them heavy losses. As it is, the window available to the film is just one week as the next week’s release, Ek Villain, is expected to make a serious dent in its further run.

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