There will be a few people happy to watch 'Nautanki Saala!'. Theatre professionals, for one, will be really ecstatic to see a reel stage professional making the kind of money that can afford him flowers worth Rs 25,000, hospital bills for a stranger worth Rs 40,000, bills for wine at plush restaurants, bribes for audiences to clap and compensation for half a dozen silly accidents - all without blinking an eye for a complete stranger found off the street. Another set of people relieved to see this film would be the good Samaritans who have a thing for saving and reforming the aimless and suicidal often at risk to their own lives, careers and relationships. In short, the losers. The rest of us, normal people, will find 'Nautanki Saala!' a terrible drag.
Plot in a spot
Ram Parmar RP (Ayushman Khurana) is a stage actor-director determined to save people from themselves. He spots Mandar Lele (Kunal Roy Kapoor with a Marathi accent that sucks) trying to hang himself in a public street, bundles him up in his car and brings him home. Apart from some sketchy details about no job and a break-up (without referring to when and why it happened), which are fairly regular events in most people’s lives, it is not quite clear why the slumping Mandar is feeling so depressive and listless. So he mopes all day and RP mollycoddles him. Live-in girlfriend Chitra’s (Gaelyn Mendonca) not too happy but who cares? RP even goes to the lengths of hiring the Dodo in his own superhit theatrical Ravanleela as Ram and then paying audiences to encourage his terrible acting and tracing Mandar’s ex Nandini (Pooja Salvi) and saving her from an unfortunate relationship.
The film has some genuinely hilarious moments – the Malayali woman in the hospital, the producer’s arguments with RP, some of RP and Mandar’s exchanges, most of all the scene in restaurant – and could have easily held the film together had the basic storyline been even remotely been something one could emphathise with. But the problem is that the characters of 'Nautanki Saala!' exist in some dream world limbo where break-ups just need walking away and all is forgiven for the lonely, suicidal or lovelorn and saying sorry makes everything right.
The female actors, apart from the pretty Evelyn Sharma who anyway has very little to do except preen, are both remarkably bad. Gaelyn is too shrill and Pooja, well, too insipid. Although he tries his best, Kunal’s dull mopey act is less endearing and more exasperating. In fact, if this film has something to write home about, it is its music and the protagonist RP. Ayushman Khurana is a complete natural and shows fantastic comic timing. The poor man’s really trying to hold it all together but that hasn’t helped this nautanki.