Atithi Devo Bhava. Guest is akin to God. Us Indians have been brought up on this adage…respect a guest and treat him nice. Easier said than done, isn’t it? There have been many an instances of an unwanted guest overstaying their welcome and becoming and unbearable PITA. And before long, we try to conjure up inane ways to get rid of them, as politely as we can and without appearing to really detest their presence!
Around such a mundane situation does revolve the latest movie to hit the marquee – Atithi…Tum Kab Jaoge? Into the lives of Puneet (Ajay Devgn), a script writer and Munmun (Konkana Sen Sharma), an architect, breezes in one Lambodhar Chacha (Paresh Rawal), ostensibly as a far off relative of Puneet. He is welcome initially but his rustic mannerisms, eye for detail and voracious appetite – among others – start irking the family slowly. Though he endears himself to the other inhabitants of the society and their son, Puneet and Mumnun are clearly fed up of this guest’s overstay. Out come inanely conjured plans and desperate manoeuvres to oust this “pest” but to no avail. I won’t spoil the fun by revealing whether they actually manage to get rid of him or not!
Even with a pretty thin premise and a none-too-unexpected outcome, ATKJ manages to hold your attention and probably does strike a familiar chord with the urban audience, who maybe have faced such a situation before. Most of the humour is situational and well woven into the storyline. One gets to see a multitude of characters as in Priyadarsan movies and they’re well etched at the outset before they make an eventual contribution at crucial junctures in the story. In fact, I half-expected to see something like Bawarchi where a complete stranger becomes such an influence that he becomes indispensable. But this one’s nothing like that!
The opening reels of the movie are its weakest where it is somewhat forcefully established that the household needs a guest. The kid’s repeated asking for the arrival of a guest looks out of place in the narrative and when one does turn up, it does look awfully convenient! The guest’s entry is with a bang, which arouses an instant dislike for him but as the reels unfold, he endears himself to the people around him, quite hilariously at that by singing a jai mata di song to the tune of beedi jalaile 😆 The problems that the guest creates are also well narrated and so are the trying-to-get-rid-of him scenes. It is not surprising to see those plans backfire and that’s where the movie again stutters a little. The last hour or so of the movie is comparatively better as the realization dawns in that this guest is doing something good. And as it often happens, one realizes how important someone is when they’re gone!
Undoubtedly, the movie belongs to Paresh Rawal, who delivers a flawless performance as the unwanted chachaji who can’t help help being a nuisance and angelic at the same time. I think he borrows heavily from his previous role in the movie Hungama where he plays a wealthy villager trying to live in the city. His devotion and good natured-ness rubs off on everyone and before long, he’s indispensable. I can think of no other actor who could’ve done justice to this character. Ajay Devgn and Konkana Sen Sharma also deliver noteworthy performances, with both standing out in the emotional scenes as well. Ajay has a better flair for comedy and it shows in his performance. Of the supporting cast, Satish Kaushik and Akhilendra Mishra are okay with several others providing bit-part contributions. Director Ashwni Dheer might be a debutante film maker but he has a sound experience of TV shows behind him and he does well in his first big movie. Music is pretty average with just the title track standing out. A movie such as this doesn’t really need songs and whatever are there, ably support the narrative as background scores.
The movie is not without its share of drawbacks though. The whole fart-scenes are a put-off and felt excessive. Ditto the persistent backache problems that plagued Munmun’s boss’ wife. The scenes with Viju Khote were overdone too. The whole bhai rigmarole too was a tad excessive. But the pluses kinda overshadow the minuses and even with these excesses, the movie is a good for a one-time watch. The climax was probably too devotion-laden for me but many of the audience were appreciative of it and seems to have had a positive impact on them. For me, the situational humour, Ajay Devgn and Paresh Rawal were the high points…and of course jyoti jalaile (to the tune of beedi jalaile)
Moi Rating: 3/5