A version of this review appeared in The Age, 16 December, 2010.
Set in South Africa for no obvious reason, Anees Bazmee's Bollywood farce speaks the universal language of dumb slapstick: speeded-up chases, blaring horns, cartoonishly violent scenes where characters are shot, electrocuted or set on fire. As Raj, a small-time crook who's not ashamed to frock up, Akshaye Khanna has the exact worried look of Graeme Blundell in the heyday of Alvin Purple.
The story kicks off when Raj and his partner Yash (Sanjay Dutt) fleece a bank manager from the sticks (Paresh Rawal) who trails them to the bayside city of Durban. Here, all three cross paths with a preening cop played by Anil Kapoor from Slumdog Millionaire, and his wife (Sushmita Sen) who suffers from regular bouts of homicidal mania. Also on the scene are another, much nastier gang of crooks chasing a stolen bag of diamonds – as well as a farting gorilla and a little girl who gets carried aloft by a bunch of helium balloons.
There are the obligatory romantic interludes and musical numbers, but none of the moralising one might expect to balance the silliness. The disjointed plot is simply a framework for gags, with an ending that suggests Bazmee abruptly ran out of either inspiration or money. Typically for a Bollywood film set abroad, there's scarcely a non-Indian in sight; still, local viewers may blink when a mishap involving black shoe polish sparks a racial clash on the beach. “It used to happen in Australia,” someone observes. “Now it's starting here.”