New Delhi: If you decide to watch ‘My Friend Pinto’ you are going to leave the hall with a silly grin on your face. And that is the exact silly grin that Prateik Babbar has on his face all throughout the movie.
‘My Friend Pinto’ is Prateik’s debut as solo hero. Coming out from the ‘co-star’ zone of the likes of Imran Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Aamir Khan – Prateik would have had to do something momentous to make a mark. And as Pinto, he is good, but he is not there yet. Not quite!
Directed by Raaghav Dar, the movie stars Prateik, Kalki Koechlin, Arjun Mathur, Divya Dutt, Makrand Deshpande, Shruti Seth, Shakeel Khan, Aseem Hattangadi, Faisal Rashid, Asif Basra and Surendra Rajan.
As the story goes, Michael Pinto lands up in Mumbai after his mother’s death. He is simple, honest and has an ‘Amul Butter’ type heart. Thus in a mean city like ‘Mumbai’ his responsibility is thrust on to his childhood friend Sameer (Arjun Mathur). Sameer works with a music company where he must accept what ever his boss says but deep inside still nurses the childhood dream of making his own label of White Rabbit records. Moving away from Goa, Mumbai has engulfed him. Marriage, a successful wife who loves her job and has her boss hitting on her and work has made him forget his childhood friend, he does not answer to Pinto’s letters and even leaves a bunch of them unopened. Thus Pinto landing up adds more chaos to his life and potentially jeopardises his New Year plans.
Pinto with his penchant for trouble, lands up in Mumbai bang in the middle of an erratic chase involving the two criminals under a ‘mallu’ Don (Makrand Deshpande) – Ajay and Vijay who are chasing a Mahesh, who has run off with the ransom money that they extracted from a business man for kidnapping his obese son who cannot stop stuffing his face with McD burgers. Mahesh is in the railway station to meet Maggi (Kalki Koeclin) a wannabe dancer who he plans to sell off to a seedy hotel in Paharganj.
That is what the movie does to you – the sub plots leave you breathless trying to even narrate them in your mind. The story of Pinto is in fact very simple – he is a simple, sweet boy in an erratic city on New Year’s Eve – and all he wants to do is survive till his old friend can find him and take him home.
Michael Pinto’s ‘mis’adventures can be summed up as – breaking Maggie’s suitcase handle, Suhani’s (Shruti Seth) ripped dress, two broken vases, a broken sink, locking himself out in the balcony, landing in to the house of two men quarrelling over a girl, teaching the Don how to play the didgeridoo, rescuing a puppy, a stolen wallet, a stint at the gambling den, stopping Maggie from jumping off a building (ironically this is the same building that Mahesh is hanging from – that is a long story), a little puppy love, a taxi driver with a heart attack, rescuing the Don’s girlfriend Reshma (Divya Dutta) finally landing up at the don’s nightclub just in time to give the performance of a life time and potentially clinch a record deal from Sameer’s company – by the looks of it.
Lost? Well so are the viewers! And one cannot help but think that even if Prateik was not in the picture – the madness would carry on unaltered. But Pinto is the only common thread in all the chaos. And he is the only reason why all the random characters land up at ClubEnvy on New Years’ Eve.
As Sameer says – Pinto changes the lives of all the people he meets in that one fateful night and we are just glad that it is one night – and not more – for if there was any more comedy being squeezed out of errors, and we would need a note pad to list it.
The viewer will smile, but he won’t laugh out. The situations created are funny but by no means hilarious. Prateik alternates between a lost expression and a ‘pleased as a punch’ look when ever he is singing or breaking in to fun jig. But without a doubt Prateik seems to be enjoying the role thoroughly – and it shows! It seems to come to him naturally – we just wish he did a little more.
Kalki has perhaps 10 minutes of screen time. As an aspiring dancer, she is just not convincing. You will like her, but not particularly remember her. From an actor who has such brilliant histrionics on record – as Maggie she is lacks the spark.
Divya Dutt as Reshma is rather endearing as is the Mallu Don. Rajendranath Zutshi as Mac is borderline psychotic – his character is a cliché, a prototype, a coke snorting wannabe Don – that is what he must be perhaps. But his last outburst in a dancer’s costume is simply absurd.
The movie has some heart warming moments – one being the scene where some street kids are looking on to a man from the dog pound taking the puppy, called Hero, in. He is drunk and as the children say – he won’t let go off the puppy unless offered a half bottle of liquor ‘addha’. Pinto butts in and asks – “Addha kitne ka aata hai?” – he lets go off the dogs that are in the van as the man from the dog pound drives off. As the children dance in the water from a broken pump – a dog comes to lick Pinto’s hand in gratitude. Beautifully done Raaghav Dar!
‘My Friend Pinto’ is worth the smile it generates – but so much more seems to be left undone. The songs in the movie are great, the actors so perfectly sweet and the chaos all pervading. But as a whole – the movie gives nothing great to take home.
Perhaps if Kalki had more concrete screen time and her equation with her mother was explored and Sameer coming to terms with a lost childhood friend was looked in to – the movie would have had more meat. There are no twists in this tale – after a point the viewers can almost predict the next error in line – much like the Charlie Chaplin kinds. Coming very close to slapstick – it misses the mark and becomes lukewarm funny. But the movie is a burst of colour and has a fantastic song sequence in the number ‘Take it Easy’ – very nice cinematography.
Should all movies leave a mark then – one may ask. Perhaps not – but it is a good watch for a Saturday afternoon.