United Kacche is an apology for a social comedy

Sunil Grover in ZEE5’s United Kacche. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

Yoodlee Films, the movie-making department of the age-old music label, Saregama-HMV, has always had an erratic and eccentric record, defeating its goal of being a standout eclectic production house. Most of their films are totally non-mainstream, and depend on critical and festival applause rather than asking for or deserving audience attention.

In the short space of 7 years, they have conveyor-belt-produced over 25 films in multiple languages, and when we see that one of them was titled Ascharya F**k It, you get the general ‘direction of thought’, right? Yes, there is one National award winner (Hamid), one passable thriller (200—Halla Ho) and a decent comedy (Comedy Couple) among the Hindi ones. But exceptions prove the sordid rule.

United Kacche, however, reaches the pits, that too, when it had a storyline that had fantastic scope for humor with a social message. Basically, United Kacche is a pun of sorts on United Kingdom (U.K.—get it?) but must narrate the trials and tribulations of Punjabis, who presumably form the bulk of illegal immigrants from India. Kacche, of course, is a collective noun for this tribe. We are informed that most such Punjabis worth their salt-and-sarson ka saag mortgage their properties to pay for going to UK, and fend for themselves there minus any federal rights.

We are further informed that the cops there are corrupt enough to give them PR (as in Permanent Residency) strictly on the latter’s own terms and conditions. But there is a shortage of pyar (as rhyming with PR!) in their lives. We are also informed that such a tribe must live only on cash income as they cannot open bank accounts, and are further enlightened that such enterprising souls can carry on for years in cushy comfort, and can even consider starting a family!

But we are migrating (!) too fast. United Kacche narrates the saga of Tango a.k.a. Tejinder Gill, who mortgages his property in Punjab to fulfill his late father’s dream of going to the U.K. He manages it through such agents who make a fortune out of the kabutar (facilitating such unofficial entrants) business.

In the country now, Tango is given the address of two more kacche, the Pakistani couple Sajjad (Manu Rishi Chaddha) and Zareen (Nayani Dixitt), who illegally rent out their apartment (though they are themselves tenants!) to others to earn cash. The other resident here is the Bangladeshi, Shampy (Nikhil Vijay), and Tango has to share half his bed with him.

Matters first come to a head when the two have to be hidden from the actual landlord, Jogu Patel (Satish Shah in his career’s most unfunny and insignificant role to date!), who is a drunkard. His comely daughter, Daisy (Sapna Pabbi, of 24 and others fame), however, knows the couple’s secret and empathizes with them.

The dark currents come from Shampy’s twin, Bumpy, who is incarcerated in jail, and the concerned cop wants Shampy to corner and trap many kacche to facilitate Bumpy’s freedom and ensure PR for both. And then, of course, the unemployed Tango, falls in pyar with Daisy.

There is a further catch: Tango has been married and lately separated back home from a seductive yet scruple-free girl named Jasmine (Diksha Taneja) who now informs him by long-distance call that she is pregnant through him. She will now do anything to get to London, including conning secret flames to arrange the cash for flying out.

The job angle is also complicated as neither Tango nor Sajjad manage to get suitable work. Strangely, despite the money crunch, Sajjad even hosts a lavish Eid party and is always eating (meat) kababs.

The crazy happenings that fit into a quirky look at immigrants soon begin to pall as the story is stre-e-etched into 8 episodes. It goes finally beyond the realm of comedy into a terrible apology for the genre, and the end is inconclusive. In most of the eight episodes, a self-tickle may generate more laughs than this script and lines.

Nowhere are we given the message that illegal migration is a crime, that it is morally wrong too and adds to India’s disgrace. Moreover, the last two episodes totally lose the plot, going just about anywhere in their quest for substance in the saga. A Hallowe’en party, an illegally-practicing moron of a doctor, a tycoon who has a school back home in Punjab who encourages migration, a daughter who has no hesitation to loot her dad, an imaginary sequence in heaven and more—the tiresome series has it all. A critic must try and watch the entire show (unless it is execrable) to assess it, he always hopes for at least part-redemption, giving the premise of the story! But on this show, that just does not happen!

After wowing the world with his humor on The Kapil Sharma Show and excelling in a serious role in Gabbar…Is Back with a decent turn in the web series Tandav,  Sunil Grover, unfortunately, cannot rise above the mediocre material here. The poor man virtually sleepwalks through the show. Sapna Pabbi is just okay, while Manu Rishi Chaddha tries his best. Nikhil Vijay suits the role to a T, but cannot do anything special. Neetu Kohli is pure template as the over-affectionate, loud Punjabi mom. The only two artistes who shine in this mess are Nayani Dixitt as Zareen and Diksha Juneja as the almost-Machiavellian Jasmine. Their expressions, tones and body language alone convey so much.

The direction is best not commented upon, ditto the script and the overdone background score and songs, though Saregama misuses songs on which they have copyright, apart from Zee Music’s Gadar hit, Main nikla gaddi lekar.

Some good points then? Apart from Nayani and Diksha, I liked the taunts on Bangladeshis (“You cannot come into our territory. We can enter India, and we always do!” says Shampy) and the quirky takes on Pakistan and Pakistanis. I liked the stress on the obvious fact that the entire subcontinent is crazy about Hindi films and music. But, again, I did not relish the way Gujaratis are presented—the senior as an alcoholic moron who jettisons ethics so easily, and the younger girl who helps others rob her father.

Rating: *

ZEE5 presents Yoodlee Films’ United Kacche Created by: Manoj Sabharwal    Produced by: Vikram Mehra & Siddharth Anand Kumar Directed by: Manav Shah & Dharampal Thakur  Written by: Gaurav Sharma, Manoj Sabharwal, Ali Haji, Khush Mullick, Veer Panchal, Sudarshan Pareek, Ravi Ra & Parth Ahuja Music: Dr Zeus & Upmanyu Bhanot  Starring: Sunil Grover, Sapna Pabbi, Manu Rishi Chaddha, Nikhil Vijay, Nayani Dixitt, Diksha Juneja, Satish Shah, Neelu Kohli, Poojan Chhabra & others








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