A concoction of all Priyadarshan movie elements – the rural village backdrop, huge palatial bungalow, a satyawadi father (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), an aam aadmi, his loyal sidekick, hordes of poorly baked characters (with zilch rhyme or reason), their big dreams and bigger problems (for the audience as well).
Sachin Tichkule (Akshay Kumar), a small-time sincere road contractor (who sports RayBan glares BTW), determined to make his name in a society that is heavily marred with corrupt babu’s (including his brothers), who get their way by greasing a few palms. Running out of money and not bagging anything worthwhile in return, Kumar is compelled to shed his Gandhian virtues and walk the path of under-the-table scheming-dealings to bag a project where he can prove himself. To his dismay, enters ex-girlfriend Gehna Ganphule (Trish Krishnan), an uptight no-nonsense ‘sarkari’ madam who shoves Kumar around before falling for his charms (Yeh Bollywood hai remember!!). A quick flashback is squeezed in to show why Trisha loathes Kumar. Sachin Tichkule’s adventures with the bribe-backed system, sprinkled with issues of collapsing bridges, pot-holed roads and relationships with family, co-workers forms the plot or whatever is left of it.
Firstly, whoever classified this movie as a comedy needs a humour check asap. Remaking his own 1988 Malayalam movie, “Vellanakalude Naadu”, Priyadarshan and team probably didn’t contemplate that the two decades gap would have a devastating effect on the age-old tricks and jokes, which were an entertaining watch then but don’t make for audience appeal now. At bullock-cart gait, the plot crawls mercilessly with the umbrella-jhola toting Kumar making a mish-mash of any trivial job there is. The story scampers into just as many subplots without connecting anywhere appearing disheveled.
Akshay Kumar, being the director’s actor that he is, tries very hard but is unable to shift the glaring spotlight from the script, which is weak and overflows with unwanted melodrama. Trisha lacks screen presence and just about manages but fails to stand up to Akshay’s compelling act.
Yes, there are some forsaken gags, and at times Kumar’s rant about the common mans’ struggle and woes makes you relate and empathize. But on a parallel plate, there are too many ughh moments in the film – the blame-game with the driver, the sister’s (Urvashi Sharma) sexual violence and death, some bland bathroom scenes, all make up for a nauseating watch without any disclaimers to alert you in advance. To add to the trauma, there are some sing-songs, which just jump out at the worst possible reels in the film. Another culprit that adds to the unbearable viewing of this film is the length of around 2:40, which is a tad too long for a narrative that goes from ok to bad to worse by the time the curtains come down.
Quick take: Khatta-Meetha is a recipe gone horribly wrong, unsavory blend of all ingredients sweet and spice, leaves a sour taste in the end.