The title of Rohit Shetty’s latest film is prescient. He’s made so many “Golmaal” films that it is impossible to tell them apart. So you stop bothering with numbers, because you know it is going to run with the same formula all over again and engineered towards making that elusive thing Bollywood likes to call a “commercial blockbuster”.
Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Kunal Khemu, Shreyas Talpade and Tusshar Kapoor reprise their roles from the earlier films. The women, of course, are dispensable and easily replaced. This time, the setting is an orphanage in the hill town of Ooty. Gopal (Devgn), an orphan with anger issues and an irrational fear of ghosts, decides to leave town with friend Laxman (Talpade) after an altercation with three other orphans. Many years later, all of them meet at the last rites of the founder of the orphanage, and discover that all is not well.
An evil builder is out to destroy the orphanage, a spirit seems to haunt the house where the men are staying, and the mysterious Damini (Parineeti Chopra) seems to have a secret that only puzzles people in the film. Audiences can see it coming a mile away.
But for all its predictability, “Golmaal Again” is funny. The first half of the film is full of good slapstick comedy, combined with an inspired running joke on Nana Patekar. Warsi and Kemmu display excellent comic timing, while Johnny Lever brings his dependable comedic genius to the screen to deliver some truly rollicking moments. Tabu as the benevolent librarian who guides the men on their mission is understated and efficient.
But it is too good to last. As the second half rolls in, things get sluggish, the jokes get rarer and the mission to save the orphanage seems to be taking a tad too long. Shetty’s story doesn’t have the emotional heft or enough jokes to entertain us for 151 minutes – the film’s runtime.
But for what it is worth, this film stays clear of sexist jokes, toilet humour and making fun of the disabled. For that alone, “Golmaal Again” is one up on its earlier iterations.