Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Cinetek Telefilms Pvt. Ltd.’s Santa Banta Pvt. Ltd. (UA) is a comedy about two bumbling men and how they succeed in rescuing a kidnapped official of the government of India, stationed in Fiji.

Shankar Roy (Ayub Khan) lives with his wife, Kareena (Neha Dhupia), in Fiji. He is the high commissioner of India. He is kidnapped one day. The RAW in India sends Santa (Boman Irani) and Banta (Vir Das) to Fiji to trace the high commissioner. Although Santa and Banta are not secret service agents, Arvind Dhariwal (Vijay Raaz), who works for the RAW, passes the duo as agents.

Once in Fiji, Santa and Banta meet Queenie Taneja alias Cutie (Lisa Haydon) and Akbar Allahabadi (Sanjay Mishra), both of who aid them in their mission. At one point, Kareena approaches Santa and Banta and tells them that she fears, her husband has not been kidnapped but has actually himself gone underground. Incidentally, Kareena resembles Santa’s ex-love, Billo (Neha Dhupia).

Sonu Sultan (Ram Kapoor) is a bosom pal of the high commissioner and he is always concerned about the progress in the case. Back in India, Hanumanth (Tinnu Anand) is after Arvind Dhariwal to show results. Ultimately, Arvind Dhariwal comes to Fiji.

Just by chance, Santa and Banta reach high commissioner Shankar Roy and they are shocked to know who has held him captive. Here, Arvind Dhariwal takes millions of dollars of the government as ransom money to be given to secure Shankar Roy’s freedom.

What happens thereafter? How do Santa and Banta save Shankar Roy’s life? What happens to the money taken by Arvind Dhariwal?

There is also a separate track of a terrorist (Johny Lever) in Fiji and his two sidekicks (Vrajesh Hirjee and Vijay Patkar).

Asad Ajmeri and Pawan Soni have penned a kiddish story which is more implausible than it is funny. If it were suitably funny, the implausibility factor would not have irritated the viewers but because the story is so ridiculous while not being appropriately funny, the audience disconnects from the drama soon after it begins. The screenplay, written by Asad Ajmeri and Akashdeep, is rather weak. It is more of an assemblage of scenes intended to create humour than anything else. While some scenes do make the audience laugh, many of them fall flat on their face and end up putting off the viewers. How any two idiots could pass off as secret service agents is not explained. The kidnapping drama, when revealed in the end, looks childish. Even while the rescue operation is underway, the high commissioner is shown to be resting against a car as if he were relaxing in the open rather than being concerned about his own safety. All in all, the screenplay is poorly written. Dialogues (by Asad Ajmeri; additional dialogues by Lawrence John) are good at several places, especially the ones in which Santa-Banta call Sonu Sultan by different names.

Boman Irani does well but even a fine actor like him is able to do precious little to salvage the weak script. Vir Das is suitably funny but again, there’s a limit to the laughter he can evoke, because of the weak scenes. Neha Dhupia is ordinary. Lisa Haydon does an average job. Ram Kapoor is mechanical, and the blame for it would go more to the poor script. Johny Lever, as the Nepali terrorist, evokes laughter at places, especially when repeatedly and frustratedly replying to the telephone caller asking him to do his duty as a security guard. Vijay Raaz is effective. Tinnu Anand makes his presence felt. Sanjay Mishra gets very limited scope and is okay. Ayub Khan lends ordinary support. Vrajesh Hirjee and Vijay Patkar are alright. Sonu Nigam (friendly appearance) and Vik­as Bhalla (guest appearance) add star value in a song-dance. Ranjeet is so-so in a guest appearance. Ravi Dewan and the others provide average support.

Akashdeep’s direction and narrative style as also choice of subject and drama belong to an era gone by. Music (Jaidev Kumar, Jassi Katyal and Nadeem-Amjad) is functional, with a couple of songs being okay. Lyrics (by Kumaar; title song by Shabbir Ahmed) are routine. Chinni Prakash’s choreography is average. Raju Singh’s background music passes muster. Chirantan Das’ camerawork is ordinary. Ravi Dewan’s action and stunt scenes are commonplace. Shailesh Mahadik’s production designing is fair. Nitin Rokade’s editing leaves something to be desired.

On the whole, Santa Banta Pvt. Ltd. is a weak fare which will, therefore, neither make the audience laugh nor the concerned persons smile.

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