Synopsis – A young couple in London struggle to live with their estranged aunt and uncle, who overstay their welcome.
My Take – Do you all remember the 2011 comedy-drama film Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge starring Paresh Rawal, Ajay Devgn and Konkona Sen Sharma, well, for some reason the makers of that mildly successful film are back with yet another film on the same lines, with a new cast & setting, but retains Paresh Rawal’s meddlesome guest from the original film, as well as the director and its sequence of events. Honestly, I stepped into this film without much of an expectation, after all, its predecessor was just alright, while the promos of this one were just about decent and even though there were some smiles thrown in, the overall ‘must-watch’ quotient was missing. Well it looks like my guess was right, as the film is a far cry from its predecessor in terms of entertainment value as it kind of feels like leftovers while carving a stereotype of an irritating, parasitical guest. Let me put it this way, if you find an unending series of fart jokes, accompanied by loud sound and smell, and descriptions thereof funny, his is your kind of film. If you find racist takes on Chinese, Pakistanis & Africans funny, this your kind of film! Yes! These are some of the elements that comprise of the 135-minute run time of this Ashwni Dhir directed film. The story follows Aryan (Kartik Aaryan), who in order to receive a permanent citizenship in the UK is about to enter into a fake marriage with taxi driver, Anaya (Kirti Kharbanda), a British national with money troubles. Even though the court allows them to proceed, their neighbor & immigration officer Habib (Sanjay Mishra), a heavily stereotyped Pakistani born is not convinced.
The two moves into together & decide to pretend as long as it takes to get the job done. To make matters worse, Gangasharan Gandotra aka Chachaji (Paresh Rawal) and his wife Guddi aka Chachiji (Tanvi Azmi), far relatives of Aryan arrive and take over the couple’s kitchen, bedroom and garden, basically their whole life. While Aryan & Anaya realize that they have actually developed feelings for each other & want to give their marriage a real chance, the interference from Chacha & Chachi in their lives makes it impossible for them to proceed with anything, and just can’t tolerate Gangaram giving Aryan and the British-bred Anaya lessons in Indian culture, clothing, cuisine and digestive practices. But how much patience can someone have before they reach their tipping point?. Thirty minutes into the film, I was actually surprised by how the film had managed to grab my attention. As it progressed, I realized that it was not really bad and in fact did have fair laughs scattered into the narrative. However, what truly impressed was the emotional mood that was set by director Ashwni Dhir for a major part of the narrative. What pleasantly surprises you though are the emotional highs that start appearing soon enough. The wedding ceremony that takes place, the drunken spur of Kartik where he confesses his love to Kriti, the morning after with the family where elders hand over ‘shagun’ to the newlyweds – you get to see a different side of the film which catches you unaware. Lighter moments follow soon after and though the sequence of events at the party of the boss seems a little extended, its culmination is quite good, hence leading to an impressive interval point. However, its post-interval when the film derails. Even though the makers keep insisting that this is not a sequel/remake of the 2010 film, its obvious how rehashed everything is. Apart from the non-funny jokes, there were also many insensitive jokes in the movie. In a scene where Aryan’s boss is seen harassing an employee who is from China, Paresh Rawal interferes and says ‘women get destroyed, and she is Chinese, she will get destroyed faster’. Another scene involves Paresh Rawal asking the Pakistani neighbor what he wants to drink, to which the neighbor responds by saying ‘Kashmir’, to this, Paresh Rawal’s character responds by farting. Yes, this is an actual scene from the film. Yes, those innumerable fart gags, are a big drawback here. The makers felt that passing gas really makes people laugh, so they even went on to have a ghazal about farts. Needless to say, it’s completely distasteful and not one-bit funny. The loud humor and acting spare nobody, not even Habib’s baby from his inter-racial marriage, which is given an oil massage by Guddi so that it can become fair-skinned. Dhir’s screenplay is blind to its egregiousness, just like Gangaram and Guddi are unable to see that rather than being a pushy yet old-fashioned and ultimately loving couple, they are merely painful pile-ons. There is also a subplot involving a lecherous boss (Naveen Kaushik) whose penchant for self-made acronyms will grate your nerves.
This subplot has nothing to do with the film and yet wastes enough time and tests one’s patience. If the comedy is bad, the sudden change of tone to super-seriousness and then back to comedy only worsen things for us. There is a twist in the film that alludes to a real-life tragedy that happened 16 years ago. It is not wrong to refer to a tragedy to take your plot ahead, but in the case of this film, the makers have used it as a cheap strategy to invoke viewers’ sympathies. But the idea falls flat thanks to some poor writing. It also negates some of the behavior of two protagonists, who never betray the fact that there is a huge tragedy in their lives. Had the makers infused some common sense in this part of the story, the film would have belonged to a different league altogether. Nonetheless, to give credit where it is due, the film doesn’t bore you thanks to some likable sequences. The film also captures the socio-cultural differences between the east and the west; where people end up realizing that be it east or west, emotions are still the same and all you need is love and compassion to stay together. The behavior of the new couple is quite predictable for anyone who has seen the previous film, they are quite enjoyable too. But, within this predictable (and sometimes delightfully unpredictable) story line, the director has managed to infuse a very interesting angle. Upon certain discoveries, the Aryan and Anaya begin to question the true identity of their overstayed guests. Each of the four actors on the screen works in tandem and gets a good platform to bring on the emotions. Here, the actors do their best to lift this mediocre film and make things engaging. Paresh Rawal and Tanvi Azmi make a cute pair, making you fall in love with this adorable old couple. The moment Paresh Rawal steps into an airplane with his wife Tanvi Azmi and embarks on a travel from Punjab to London, there are some trademark antics of the actor that are thrown in. On the other hand, the youngsters make their presence felt instantly too with Kartik Aryan and Kriti Kharbanda getting into an arranged marriage. This is the second film of Kriti (her first being the horrendous Raaz Reboot) and she has done a pretty decent job with her acting and dancing skills. Kartik continues his Pyaar Ka Punchnama act & still manages to be entertaining. Sanjay Mishra is hilarious as always, despite a cliche character. Ajay Devgn’s special appearance in the film comes in as a huge surprise. On the whole, ‘Guest Iin London’ is a far-fetched and lazily crafted film which despite some delightful moments is bogged down by its bland humor.
Directed – Ashwani Dhir
Rated – PG
Run Time – 132 minutes