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Masand's Verdict: Paying Guests is painful


Rajeev Masand,CNN-IBN
Jun 21, 2009 at 07:08pm IST

Cast: Javed Jaffrey, Shreyas Talpade, Ashish Chaudhary, Celina Jaitley, Neha Dhupia, Riya Sen, Sayali Bhagat, Asrani

Director: Paritosh Painter

Paying Guests directed by Paritosh Painter is a comedy that's based on a premise so weak, you'll just about muster up a few chuckles; don't expect this film to make you laugh.

Javed Jaffrey, Shreyas Talpade and Ashish Chaudhary play three Indian friends in Pattaya who lose their jobs at the same time and soon after find themselves kicked out of the apartment they share, by their cranky landlord played by Asrani. Now they have no roof over their heads, no money for rent, and to add to it, a fourth friend (played by Vatsal Sheth) has landed up to bunk with them. Obviously our heroes never consider selling off their trendy clothes and fancy watches and using that money for rent - no, if they did that, this stupid film would end right there.

What happens instead - rather conveniently - is that they come across an Indian couple - played by Johnny Lever and Delnaz Paul - who are happy to rent out a room against zero deposit, but only to married couples. Borrowing the oldest trick in the Bollywood Book of Cliches, Shreyas Talpade and Javed Jaffrey go drag and pretend to be the wives of the other two. The landlords are fooled and the room is obtained. But the hiccups start when their girlfriends begin to show up one by one.

Everything about this film feels recycled - the juvenile plot, the tired jokes, even the performances by the leads. You've seen this kind of film many times before and there's virtually nothing novel being offered here. Writer-director Paritosh Painter resorts to every overused gag to draw the laughs - Gujarati characters mispronouncing words, your staple gay jokes, double-meaning dialogue, slapstick set-ups, and the standard trick involving tennis balls-for-breasts. None of it is very funny.

The girls in the film - Celina Jaitley, Neha Dhupia, Riya Sen and Sayali Bhagat - not exactly Bollywood's answer to the Streeps and Sarandons, have precious little to do but flaunt their curves. Of the men, it's only Shreyas Talpade who shows any spark for comic timing; and Johnny Lever can always be counted on to deliver a few genuinely funny moments.

That aside, Paying Guests is a rather painful picture that completely fails to even engage you. You couldn't care less what happens to the characters in the end. Sadly, they all go home smiling. You wish you could too.

A thumbs-down and one out of five for director Paritosh Painter's Paying Guests. This film is strictly for those who enjoy inflicting pain on themselves.

Rating: 1 / 5 (Poor)

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