Jokes apart...

Jokes apart...

Jokes apart...

King of slapstick comedies, Sajid Khan, is back with yet another no-brainer, ‘Humshakals’. RAJIV VIJAYAKAR talks to the film’s star cast that aim to woo the audiences with this one-of-a-kind venture

William Shakespeare did not know what he started when he wrote The Comedy Of Errors. In Aankhen 21 years ago, three characters came in to do dual roles.

Now Sajid Khan, director of madcap movies like Heyy Babyy, Housefull and Housefull 2, goes three steps further — or more, when you consider the licensed-for-comedy concept of three Indian men, all based in London, who have two look-alikes each in the same city.

And to make it peppier, we have all three similar-looking characters named the same. Saif plays three guys, all named Ashok, Riteish is Kumar, Kumar and Kumar, and Ram Kapoor is always Mamaji. What’s more, there is a madcap situation in which all three are in drag — for a purpose. Saif, who top-lines the cast, quips, “Yeah, man, it was four roles. Really!”

Being silly

Stretching the limits of logic and humour (often with a farcical or kiddish element both to amuse children and bring out the kids in adults), Sajid, refreshed by the failure of Himmatwala, is all set to give audiences a rollercoaster ride for the price of a movie ticket.

As he says, “I had become a horrible person speaking arrogant rubbish and making tall claims. That film’s failure almost made me reach for Mediclaim.”

Whether at the trailer launch or later exercises in PR, the team remains together — the three boys and Sajid, and very often the two girls Esha Gupta and Tamannaah, though Bipasha Basu has distanced herself from the film because of personal issues.

“I have hopefully made a mad, paisa-vasool entertainer. I will make only comedies from now on. And right now, I cannot imagine making a film without Riteish, my brother, who even had a small role in that film,” says the director.

Sajid is also besotted with Himesh Reshammiya. “I have six songs for the first time and Himesh is now more of a friend. My sister Farah Khan and I have been fans of his for a long time. He has given us some big audio hits,” he stresses on a serious note.

We move on to the “fourth” dimension — of the three heroes in drag for a situation that also has a wacky song, Khol De Dil Ki Khidki Khol De Dil Ka Door! And here, the celluloid Humshakals take over.

Quips a deadpan Riteish: “It was tough shooting that sequence. We had to imagine the other person being there while doing the scene, as the two people would be brought together only by visual effects. But nothing was tougher than finding the right-sized bathing suit for Ram Kapoor. Finally, we tore four bedspreads to make one for him.”

Chuckling, he adds, “Believe me, I am wooing Saif in drag and he is simply the hottest guy possible — Ooh, those legs! But poor Ram was committing suicide — he was wooing himself in drag.”
As Ram guffaws, Saif chips in, “Yup, Riteish is the right co-star to take my career forward. He is indeed very attractive.”

But all of them complain that Riteish would inordinately delay them by taking too long over his female make-up. “He even used nail-polish,” mock-complains Ram. “And he would take more than an hour.”

Defends Riteish, “I had experience on my side — I did it once before in Apna Sapna Money Money and I was appreciated. I even wore my wife Genelia’s skirt, which of course no longer fits her. In matters like this, I am like Aamir Khan — nothing less than a perfectionist.”

Saif insists that in wife Kareena Kapoor’s place, “I would have filed for divorce.” With a mischievous smile, he adds, “I kind of liked my own chest, but Kareena found it too large. Yeah, I do look at myself differently now.” On a sober note, he adds, “But my respect for women has soared. Though we men get too much attention, women are incredibly powerful.”

Outshining the heroines

Sajid declares, “Though we have three sexy and beautiful heroines in my film, we all know that Riteish is the most beautiful lady in the film, and Saif has the best legs.”

While Ram admits to having his hair shaved by his wife Gautami Gadgil-Kapoor, Sajid informs us that the couple has been his friends for long. “Gautami is a childhood buddy, and I even told her how to do it for him.” Ram, however, chortles as he recalls, “When Sajid told her that I have to lose all my hair, she did not sleep for four nights,”

There is never a dull moment in the film, promise the foursome, and Saif says that there were days when each actor shot for two characters on the same day. “It was tiring for us, for every expression means something in the pace of the movie. Though all our characters are lovable, it was exhausting.”

Though Saif’s sense of comedy is more subtle, urbane and poker-faced, as seen in films like Dil Chahta Hai and more, he remembers laughing through Housefull and wanted to do a comedy like this. “I could not have done this film 10 years ago. This is not in that sense a normal film or role.

It’s a blank slate that has to be filled. This role was like swimming in the deep end — it is not for the inexperienced swimmer.” Agrees Riteish, “Yes, we had to create three different characters without losing our identity as well.”

About his much-touted sequence wherein he imitates his father-in-law Randhir Kapoor (who has worked in both Housefulls), Saif admits that he just imitated Sajid mimicking him. “My wife has seen the scene and liked it. Imitation is the highest form of flattery and I hope my father-in-law likes it.”

Riteish agrees, “Yes, Sajid was the best actor on the sets. Like for the brain-damaged character that I play, as he has been given shock treatment, I had to act like a child. Sajid even told me the mental age I must portray.”

When asked why they signed such a film with nine male characters hogging the scene, the two heroines Tamannaah and Esha Gupta are cool. Says Esha: “We had hot, great songs.”

And Tamannaah chips in, “Everything was exactly as narrated.” But she still has one grouch. “Both Esha and I share Saif as co-star, though we are in love with different characters played by him. So Saif is split between us and Riteish. In It’s Entertainment, Akshay’s attention is divided between a dog and me,” she pouts. 

Finally, does Sajid regret that for the first time his sister has not choreographed a single song in this movie? “Farah began Happy New Year at the same time. So I got Ganesh Acharya and Ahmed Khan on board. And so we did the songs fast and without any fuss,” he says, tongue firmly in cheek.

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