In our school days we were taught nonsense rhymes that were incoherent, jumbled words strung together trendily. “De Dana Dan” is a 150-minute-long nonsense rhyme.
Its power to mock every rule of sensible and intelligent filmmaking simply infuriates and exasperates you to a point of complete breakdown of communication between cinema and art.
The characters are fairly funny to begin with. Akshay Kumar as Archana Puran Singh’s slave-cum-driver is the portrait of anguished hilarity. He brings to his part of the servile toy-boy a kind of facile fury that flaunts an easygoing sense of self-deprecating comedy.
Suniel Shetty as Akshay’s partner in the nonsense rhyme scheme seems to enjoy the comicality initially…At least he’s relaxed until the frames begin to fill up with more characters than Noah’s Ark and the spaceship invented to save mankind in Roland Emmerich’s “2012” combined.
There are more characters romping in confusion in “De Dena Dan” than in any of Priyadarshan’s over-crowded comedies. Two marriageable women (Katrina Kaif and Sameera Redddy) with secret lovers, their harassed fathers, Tinu Anand and Manoj Joshi, an avaricious father-in-law-to-be (Paresh Rawal) and his son (Chunky Pandey), a tart (Neha Dhupia) willing to sleep with anyone who pays. And that includes poor Vikram Gokhale who looks out of place in the boisterous goings-on.
“De Dana Dan” is like a jabbering juggernaut hurling with its fast-talking, constantly-moving army of characters into a region of utter chaos. The screenplay throws forward a gaggle of incoherent gags, which suggest that the melee of characters are more distressed by their financial than emotional condition in life.
Soon we, the audience, cease to figure out what the characters are up to or how they are inter-related, if at all.
Just go with the flow. At times, literally because at the climax we have the characters swimming and spluttering in a flood of water let loose from a bombed terrace tank in a luxury hotel.
Who planted the bomb? Is it the funny hitman Johnny Lever? Or the funnier assassin Asrani roaming around the hotel trying to hardsell a corpse in a coffin?
All this, mind it, is supposed to be the summit of hilarity. The jokes depend almost entirely on the actors’ ability to say the atrocious lines as though they mean it. Some like Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal succeed. Others don’t.
At the end of the day, this comedy of incredible mistaken identities and monstrous errors of judgement coaches us on the meaning of ‘slapstick’…literally. Everyone slaps the person closest to him or her regardless of the reason or the repercussion.
Zany or just plain witless? You decide.
If this is the present and future of mainstream Hindi entertainment then we need to do some serious thinking on the way a coterie of super-successful directors and actors have redefined entertainment to a state of utter inanity.
“De Dana Dan” is not a film. It’s a series of skits strung together to convey a sense of baggy fun and frivolous entertainment.