Made in China (2019) Review!!

Synopsis – Story of a Failed Gujarati Businessman, who jumps into unknown world of China to get once in a life time business idea, which will change his life.

My Take – It is quite daft considering that people in India, despite being a part of the world’s second largest population, continue to remain quite hesitant and diffident to talk about sex openly. Thankfully, despite the clashing cultures and mindset of the older generations, the younger more educated lot have decided to finally open up to promote sex education and awareness for better and healthy life.

As a result, in order to cater to them, commercial Hindi filmmakers have begun to take on taboo subjects like sperm donation (Vicky Donor), erectile dysfunction (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan), and most recently sexual diseases (Khandani Shafakhana), all done with a touch of humor to also appeal to the Indian mindset.

Joining this latest brigade is this Mikhil Musale directed film, which is based on the book of the same name by Parinda Joshi. However, here, director Musale has also clubbed in a story of an entrepreneur’s struggle to find a successful venture by hook or crook, and a moral of how nothing defines success in a business effort as a clever hard-sell pitch.

While the combination of this two unrelated themes sounds perfect on paper like a perfect blending of entertainment and a message, the film is unfortunately let down by its execution and an unsure storytelling. Despite an interesting premise and a reliably persuasive performance by its cast, the film is never funny enough to discount its narrative shortcomings, nor is it compelling enough as a social drama to make up for it.

The film just wastes too much time especially before the post-interval hour to finally salvage the audience’s interest in what’s going on. Yes, the film has sporadic moments that make you vaguely smile but, just like our protagonist’s many ideas, the smile never translates into laughs or interest.

Courtesy of Bollywood Hungama

The story follows Raghuveer Mehta (Rajkummar Rao), an aspiring Gujarati entrepreneur, who finds himself in trouble when a Chinese General visiting Ahmadabad is found dead after consuming a sexual performance enhancer Raghu and his partners sell. Once he is detained, Raghu takes the CBI officers down a memory lane where he reminisces about how following a string of failed ventures resulted in him getting questioned about his business acumen.

With his only source of inspiration being Chopra (Gajraj Rao), a businessman whose videos offer a masterclass in business and management strategy. However his life changes when his uncle (Manoj Joshi) pressurizes him to tag along with his much successful cousin, Devraj (Sumit Vyas) to China, for a pitch meeting, where Raghu may also end up finding some contacts to further his potential. Reluctant at first, Raghu is nevertheless persuaded by his wife Rukmini (Mouni Roy), to reconsider.

To his surprise, while Devraj’s pitch fails, he ends forming a friendship with the client, Tanmay Shah (Paresh Rawal), the millionaire who offers him a crash course in customer psychology and business strategy, which is leads him to an opportunity to form a partnership with a shady Chinese businessman to sell the ‘Magic Soup’, which may or may not be made from tiger’s genitals, in India. Considering this an excellent opportunity to strike gold, Raghu with help Dr. Vardhi (Boman Irani), a sexologist strikes the taboo market for his soup while also spreading awareness about sex education.

For his debut Hindi feature, no doubt director Mikhil Musale has taken up a subject that often sends parents scurrying to other rooms and husbands and wives fidgeting nervously, giggling like teenagers. On paper this is a funny and often logical take on the sexual problems faced by many Indian men. Here, he creates a world of the Gujarati entrepreneur with an eye for detail and offers a mild satire on how the much-vaunted entrepreneur isn’t very different from a simple salesman.

In brevity, this is a film that could have been promising purely based on its concept, however the screenplay and writing, albeit take it downhill. Almost half way into the film, the big idea relies on how social change will come only if it is packaged and sold, ends up making as much sense as one of Raghu’s windmill-tilting schemes. As mentioned earlier, the first half is besieged with major issues, not least among them being the bumpy narrative flow, snail-like pace, and disjointed editing. Further problems emerge in the form of shoddy character arcs.

Courtesy of Bollywood Hungama

While it is easy to see why someone like Tanmay instantly warmed up to Raghu, an ordinary guy just trying to make a good living, there is never a proper explanation to why Raghu hides his latest business from his wife with whom we are led to believe he has a close and non-traditional relationship. As evidence of this, they have been shown swilling alcohol together, sharing a cigarette and discussing her orgasms. She also supports him unflinchingly in the face of his family’s contempt for his many failures.

Yet somehow he is too ashamed to tell her that he is producing and peddling an aphrodisiac, and her reaction when she learns the truth ends up justifying his fears. If this is meant to be a comment on the superficiality of contemporary liberalism, it is not convincing.

There are places at which the narrative gets funny too. The highlight being the scene in which Dr. Vardhi gives a sex talk to a conference of parents who were expecting discussions about their children, is an absolute hoot without once resorting to icky or immature double entente. But when the climax arrives, is feels late and overdone.

The climax makes a dramatic deliverance of the core theme: Why sex education and awareness is important in our country. Undoubtedly, discussing sex and population is important but making it the only objective of the script becomes the biggest flaw of the film. The twist in the tale also feels like an escape from the serious issue on the table, most importantly we never find how the Chinese general actually died.

While the script ebbs and flows, the film is held together by some solid performances by the cast. Led by Rajkummar Rao, who is once again brilliant as the determined and sly protagonist. He delivers in this film well without clinging on stereotypical character interpretations. Boman Irani is a hoot as always. His monologues are delivered with power and conviction. In doing so, he grounds the film’s framework in realism that is necessary. Paresh Rawal is excellent in his small role.

Mouni Roy hasn’t been offered much here to do but manages to be likable, and Amyra Dastur whizzes past the audience without them skipping a beat. Sumeet Vyas makes a genuine attempt to leave a mark, but is wasted in an underwritten role, as are Gajraj Rao and Manoj Joshi. On the whole, ‘Made in China’ is a middling social comedy which despite a good concept is led down by its lackluster writing.

Directed – Mikhil Musale

Starring – Rajkummar Rao, Mouni Roy, Boman Irani

Rated – PG15

Run Time – 128 minutes

2 responses to “Made in China (2019) Review!!

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Worst Bollywood Films of 2019 – A MovizArk Take!!! | Welcome to Moviz Ark!·

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