All Is Well Movie Review
Umesh Shukla’s last film, OMG – Oh My God, dealt with the business of religion and the delightful satire was a better film than the overrated PK. It was good enough to make you eagerly wait for his next one.
Clearly eyeing the box office this time, Shukla tries to package the story of a dysfunctional family in loud balle balle humour, which is Bollywood’s favourite and over-used device. At one point, three fat sardars line up in a frame and talk about the merits and demerits of alternative medicine – churan to be precise – to the sound effect of a toilet flush tank. Perhaps it’s subtlety that’s being flushed out of All is Well.
Whenever the film switches to a more serious or sentimental mode, All is Well just about engages with us. Here’s the real surprise: the only emotional connection that you feel is all thanks to Abhishek Bachchan’s convincing act as a selfish son who is slow to understand his father.
As a boy, Inder Bhalla (who grows up to be Bachchan) took to his guitar and songs to drown out the noise of domestic fights. Why don’t the parents get along? No one knows. Inder eventually gets away from home and ends up singing with small bands in Bangkok. (Given the sets, one would never have guessed he is not in India.)
One day, Inder gets a call from a trigger happy, long haired money lender named Cheema (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, of Tanu Weds Manu fame) and finds himself returning to India in order to save his father from Cheema’s clutches.
Things at home aren’t rosy. Bhalla Senior (Rishi Kapoor) runs a bakery at Kasol. His wife and Inder’s mother (Supriya Pathak) has been sent away to some ashram because she has Alzheimer’s, which for some reason translates to Pathak walking around, blank and dazed, for the rest of the film.
The scowling Bhalla Senior reacts by giving her medicines and carrying on with his fights with Inder. Rest of the time, he either pees on roadsides or solves crossword puzzles.
Meanwhile, there is Inder’s girlfriend, Nimmi (Asin) who follows him around, puppy eyed, armed with The Secret. She believes in the book’s idea that staying positive resolves everything. Which means, she takes all forms of insults from the non-committal Inder, with a smile or a hug. The book is so prominent in the film that even Inder is shown reading it throughout a song. This could very well be The Secret’s bad advertising campaign.
Thanks to a far-fetched plot twist involving the Bhallas, a road trip, old jewellery and Inder’s uncle, All is Well ends up being a chase. Cheema and gang are after the Bhallas, but are blocked by cows, buffaloes and goats. The animals provide fodder for jokes that fall flat. Everyone lands up at another loud creature’s place, that of the conniving Maami (Seema Pahwa).
Shukla is hell bent on trying to force laughter with All is Well, but all he manages to inspire is exasperation. Once the script runs out of (bad) jokes, the Bhalla family and all the other characters settle down to the serious business of resolving old issues. The quintessential Bollywood route is taken—that of an unexpected wedding. It turns out to be not so bad an idea both for the screenplay and our sanity.
A lot depends on Kapoor and Bachchan, who are fairly competent and share a decent chemistry. Kapoor hams his way through the film, shouting and screaming. Zeeshan is refreshing as a comic villain. Asin is as good as the book prop and even makes Sonakshi Sinha’s item song feel like a welcome change. Pathak is totally wasted.
Ultimately, it rests on Bachchan’s shoulders to carry the burden of all being well with the film. If sincerity made for a good performance, then Bachchan should make both both on-screen and off-screen papa proud this time. Unfortunately, that’s not much by way of entertainment.
Growing up with parents who are constantly at each other’s throats isn’t easy. A child could deal with this situation by becoming an escapist who distances himself from the parents. But is that a solution? This is the premise — and a thoroughly interesting one — of Shukla’s All is Well. That’s the good part. And it ends there.