Satire works best when the makers exaggerate realities to ridiculous levels for making a point and mine it for humour. But Ravindra Gautam’s Eekees Toppon Ki Salaami written earnestly by Rahil Qaazi decides to take itself seriously, grounds the film in reality with considerable restraint and opts for heartstring tugging drama instead of comedy.
Which seems like a strange choice given the ridiculous sounding premise: Of fulfilling a dying common man’s last wish of getting a 21 gun salute.
Also, given that the film takes more than half its run time to convince its hero to do what it takes to make this happen. But you can’t really blame the makers for indulging considering the finely nuanced and credibly restrained performance by Anupam Kher who makes even an impossibly idealistic character of the honest common man work; which is why the tonal shift in the second half is a little jarring as the motley crew of characters go about the most implausible mission with a straight face.
Divyendu Sharma as the mastermind behind this audacious plan makes use of the opportunity to play the lead role and pulls off the character’s graph with conviction while Aditi Sharma plays the demure old school heroine who wonders: Yeh kya kar rahe ho (What are you doing?) when the hero leans forward to kiss her.
(And the father promptly gets them engaged the very next scene).
Neha Dhupia provides some laughs in the first half playing the Chief Minister’s mistress. The spoof song where she pays tribute to Aishwarya Rai (‘Kajra Re’), Helen (and Rajesh Sharma plays Sholay’s Gabbar), Vidya Balan (Dirty Picture), Sridevi (Mr India), Madhuri Dixit (Beta and Khalnayak) and Mandakini (Ram Teri Ganga Maili) is particularly fun.
This anti corruption satire also blames the Congress for denying the honest citizens their moments of glory (As a boy, the common man’s elocution competition prize is put on hold with the announcement of Nehru’s death and his wedding is stalled during the Emergency).
If you are willing to suspend disbelief for the outrageous second half after a realistic first, you might just dig this heart warming ode to the common man.