Be Ajay Devgan’s guest. So many films about the guest as an intruder. But this one takes the creak. And yes we do mean creak. The plot sets out to portray the ‘bin bulaye mehmaan’, or uninvited guest, as a pest rather than a guest and finally spends agonizing playing time portraying him as a messiah in a dhoti.
Trust Paresh Rawal to get into the skin of his character. From first frame to the last, Paresh has a blast. He doesn’t let go of a single moment of joy in embracing the role of the unwanted guest in Mumbai’s very hectic self-absorbed nuclear family where, as Devgan says in his heated summing-up homily, even parents are not welcome after the first few days.
So how welcome is this film about an unwelcome guest? “Atithee Tum Kab Jaoge” has its entertaining moments. But it’s essentially a one-episode sitcom. And you wonder how far writer-director Ashwin Dheer will stretch this version of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s “Bawarchi” about the quirky and persistent stranger who changes a family’s way of looking at life?
At mid-point director Dheer and his characters including the indefatigable Paresh have run out of steam.
Post-interval the narration does a vivacious volte face. And suddenly the boorish loudly burping belching and farting guest becomes a demi-god. A saviour spreading sunshine across the 4-walls of Devgans’ well-appointed home. Rawal repairs all of Devgan and Konkona’s domestic and work-related problems and leaves their home after having spread enough goodwill to do away with the other pollutant emissions in the first-half.
Dheer’s writing is a skilled synthesis of satire and a strong message on the virtues of an extended family.
Many passages of the film are designed as very little more than diversion and deflections indicating the fracture in family values that is easily reparable with some persuasion from an old-fashioned rustic guest with values that suggest a deep connection between the scriptures and common sense.
Life in the cities is not that easy to fix. The film goes through a series of cleverly orchestrated fable-like chapters, none uninteresting, but most of them repetitive beyond a point.
Devgan and Konkona try to be funny. Konkona Sen needs to drastically expand her repertoire of expressions from grimace and grin to more far-reaching expressions. There’s an interesting cameo by Satish Kaushik (playing a harried film director). And the funniest line comes from Kaushik when after repenting the way he allowed his wife to treat his mother Kaushik resolves to make a “Baghban type of film”.
“Atithee” is just that. It starts off as a savage satire on the perils of hospitality but ends up as another “Baghban”.