Review: Sajid Khan’s Humshakals

Two nights ago, I had a dream. I dreamt (I kid you not) that I watched and didn’t actually loathe Sajid Khan’s Humshakals, which led to me waking up disturbed and profoundly confused. Is it possible that the most puerile filmmaker (in an industry not known for very mature films) did something half-decent? Could it be…


No, it couldn’t. Humshakals, a film I watched the following night, turned out reassuringly enough to be bilge of the lowest order, the kind of thing we expect from Sajid Khan and yet even more harebrained. I sat in the theatre cringing and sighing, actually feeling the stultification: by nightfall I’d lost so many brain-cells I (almost) rooted for England in a football game. Shudder.

In a particularly painful hat-trick, the last three Fridays have seen me review the silly Holiday, the absurdly amateurish Fugly, and now this pathetic ‘film’. But there is one vital difference between those two turkeys and the one Sajid Khan has just dished out. Those are mediocre films basking in their own incompetence; Humshakals is a work of cruelty.

I’m not buying it, Sajid Khan. No director, I believe, can be senseless enough to think this is fine or remotely funny. Monkeys could direct a better film, and, going by what I’ve watched over the years, some have. But Humshakals couples its crude farce with a certain aggression, as if daring the audience to stay in their seats while it repeatedly spits at them.

This is not filmmaking, this is sadism.

Khan hints at it himself in a scene where an asylum warden tortures inmates by showing them Khan’s own flop, Himmatwala. We all relate, strapped into our seats, luduvico luddites assaulted by that which must not be watched. Every minute — and there are a hundred and fifty seven bleeding minutes — is so brutal it will make you want to give up your deepest secrets in exchange for escape.

The idea of having three actors in three roles apiece sounds like an ambitious one, but ambition is a concept foreign to Sajidland, where every time there is the slightest scope of a misunderstanding between the doppelgangers, the background score spells it out. Just how dumb do you think our audiences are, Sajid? Or were you trying to make Judwaa appear nuanced? This is a racist, sexist, equal-opportunity offender of a film, which wouldn’t have been awful in itself were it not also patently unfunny. Seriously, if you run into anyone who claims to have enjoyed this film, step away slowly.

For this is a film where Ritesh Deshmukh humps Suresh Menon’s leg; a film where parathas are made of cocaine; a film where Saif Ali Khan gets rapey with Deshmukh in drag; a film where two black men appear just so Saif can mouth a line about kaali daal; a film where virtually everyone looks identical and has the same name; a film where people who have hair wear wigs anyway; a film where Ram Kapoor romances himself; a film where characters who have the mental age of children nevertheless start talking like Ranjeet when aroused; a film where Saif Ali Khan, Nawab of Pataudi, drools and barks; a film where a mention of North Korean fascist Kim Jong Un is prefixed by the word “chinese chowmein”….

And so on.

hums1The biggest casualty from this monstrous effort is, in my eyes, Saif Ali Khan, who may well be disowned by friends and family. Khan gamely tries to embrace Sajid’s hammy script, but the results are grotesque: he overplays it, out on a limb far from the acting tree, and it doesn’t make for a pretty picture. Especially since he spends a significant chunk of the film dressed as a waitress, looking not half as effeminate as he did during his early, dupatta-chasing years — he’s now more like the wicked witch of the west. Ritesh Deshmukh, normally the better part of a Sajid film, spends this one making faces while peeing from the roof. Ram Kapoor, an otherwise fine actor, looks more like Shrek than ever, and is let down by a film that has cast him cause he’s fat. Even the great Satish Shah — who has aged remarkably well, casting directors across the nation — shows up as an ill-conceived neo-Nazi warden who is, unforgivably, slapped around by these morons. Ugh.

What other Sajid Khan staples? There are three trampily dressed women — of whom Esha Gupta stands out, for it takes a special kind of talent to be that glaringly awful as an actress — and, of course, the inevitable Chunky Pandey with a silly accent.

It’s all bad. All of it, every last instant, every single word. (The lyricist even rhymes “junoon” with “caller-tune.”) Which makes me wonder exactly what Sajid Khan’s motives are for savaging our audience thus. Is he the real neo-Nazi here? Is he trying to make the country stupid? Is he suicidally trying to see how far people — producers, audiences, actors — let him go before someone assassinates him? Is this all some subversive meta-joke being perpetrated on us for not having applauded his acting in Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate? Is he turning his whole life into one gigantic “ham scene of the week”?

Your guesses are as good as mine. Because a filmmaker he ain’t.

Rating: No stars


First published Rediff, June 20, 2014


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  1. Sujit

    Rating “No Stars” That is epic

  2. rishi

    thank u … i was actually planning to go to a theater to watch it

  3. sid

    That’s why I keep waiting for films like these, your rants are always a treat for the reader. Keep going , Raja Sen.

  4. Manav Chidambaran

    You’ve hit the nail on the head…and very blatantly knocked it in! Thankyou for this review. I think this is the only redemption Sajid Khans movies can offer….a warning!~
    How does the industry let him do it??? How many more think like him?? When will we ever see the light of day (Read: Mature films)?? Im cringing already knowing there’s a sequel to this somewhere…in some god forbidden place….where Housefull and Himmatwala were unearthed! Bury them ….NOW!

  5. Ankush Arora

    Even though the film is trashy, the review is hilarious and that probably is the art of Raja Sen’s writing

  6. Ruchira

    The one thing good about this movie is your review, I suppose. Still, I can’t believe you had the guts to go and watch it. Did you need saline drip?

  7. sfungus

    Please write in a way every one can understand. …
    U could hv also written it in a simple way instead of using such hard to understand words without an Oxford dictionary.. please keep in mind not every prepares for GRE.. I still dint understand if the movie is good to watch or not!

    1. nutty

      … you’re being ironic,right? please say it’s so!

    2. Ajit

      You do realize that GRE requires at least basic knowledge of English, right? It is something that the comment is severely lacking.

    3. pranav joshi

      Did not understand the review?! No wonder such films cash in on ignorance which is harboured by people like you. Your incredulity in accepting the inherent flaws in this industry and like countless others taking everything offered in blitzkreig tv promotions on face value results films being made and being infested by people who shouldnt be even allowed near a movie camera.

  8. Ritesh

    He is a sick guy anyways, this Sajid. Sick, totally sick, I will never even think of watching his movies. He is cheap, and I dont have any derogatory appropriate word for his movies. I am far from watching his movies. I, being an ardent bollywood fan, feel disinterested in the movies for people like him

  9. anshul malik

    sajid khan is the only person who thinks he is humorous.. I have never liked this asshole’s sense of humor, still remember when he used to get his ugly face on the TV to do some nonsense TV shows and host some award functions and cracked jokes that only made him laugh.. Please remove this SOB from the planet earth

  10. iconohclast

    Reblogged this on When she rambles and commented:
    Nobody could’ve said it any better than Raja Sen.

  11. Sumit Chinchane

    Dude. you are courageous i should say . I haven been entertaining myself this week by reading the reviews of Hamshakals. this one i by far the best one.
    I am sure time spent on reading reviews of Hamshakals is better than time spent watching it!

  12. Zoeb

    The best day in the entire history of Indian Cinema was….when Ashutosh Govariker told Sajid Khan to shut up…..
    And now, Raja Sen gave us another landmark to celebrate….a review that sums up what a douchebag Sajid really is….
    If you have any shame, Sajid, you can make history, this time by making at least one decent film…..

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