In Bollywood, it is not uncommon for superlative performances to raise an otherwise mediocre movie to loftier heights. But sad to say there are also plenty of movies like Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi, the type of flick that is fine for enduring once, but never again, and that too the acting talent. With melodrama, dialogues and a background score this mind-numbing, one cannot help but feel sadness about all the efforts expended on this marginally passable movie.
The tale is a semi-Chaalbaaz, semi-Parent Trap concoction, the likes of which we have endured innumerable times before. Tina and Sweety are identical twins born in a household where the parents, Raj and Archana, (Rati Agnihotri and Rishi Kapoor) have separated. You see, Daddy dearest´s evil and scheming stepsister - are there ever any other kinds? - has caused a rift between Papa and Mama in an effort to usurp all the family riches. When the girls are born, Big Sis tells both Archana and Raj that neither is interested in reconciliation simultaneously dropping a kid on each also. Yeah, whatever. So Kajol and Kajol grow up in India and England respectively, oblivious to the other child´s existence until fate - rather divine intervention from the filmi god, Ullukapatha - enables the sisters to meet in Europse and later help their parents reconcile with one another.
The story pleads for the comical David Dhawan treatment, but is instead loaded with so much melodrama and unpleasant dramatic exposition, you wonder when on Earth it will all end. Rahul Rawail has never directed a comedy before and the viewer will feel it watching the pointless pre-intermission romantic angle with Kajol and Sunil Shetty. What is worse though is Rawail´s repetitive use of strip joint sequences in a movie which should be aiming for a family-audience. And before you regain your composure, out comes a post-interval massage sequence with a very obese gentleman, so unfunny, it would give the most crude Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler comedies a run for their money. Must we emulate everything shown in Western flicks, including the offensive?
To Rawail´s credit there are about twenty continuous minutes of slapstick fun buried near the middle of the latter half of the movie which made everyone burst into laughs every few seconds. Why on earth could he not start and maintain that sort of momentum through most of the film´s two-and-a-half hours?
To help the director out, Kajol, Sunil Shetty and Rati Agnihotri work hard delivering memorable characters to the audience. Kajol is clearly the centre-piece of it all and, not surprisingly, she springs forth to render the two dichotomous sisters in all their glory. Of course, I much preferred the ironically naughty, Sweety to perfect as peach Tina. Sunil Shetty is most effective in the limited role of a village bumpkin out to help his lady-love. And Rati Agnihotri marks a pleasant return to filmdom, though she is clearly not of young adult mothering age yet. All three performances enliven the proceedings, but it is no point when you are acting in a lead balloon.
As an audience, it is easier to remember the juvenile choice of instruments in the background score rather than the gorgeous cinematography in Anu Malik´s simple and effective songs. It is easier to remember Mita Vashist and Pooja Batra shamelessly hamming in scene after scene rather than Sunil Shetty´s awesome folksy "pa-in-law" antics. And it is much easier to recollect the unnatural contrivances of the melodramatic dialogues instead of the quiet and subtle emotional moments between Sweety and Archana. The bad just happens to outweigh the good overall. But wait...
I will admit that Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi is not the worst movie of all time. In fact, I have even listed some of its more positive aspects. (Compared to many of the year 2000´s movies, it might even be considered a - shudder, shudder - classic.) But given the comic potential of the plot and the few gifts of laughter interspersed in the middle of the movie, even Rahul Rawail will have to admit it could have been much better.