A shroud of controversy has enveloped the film release of Rahul RawailÂ´s "Jo Bole So Nihaal", a fish out of water comedy about an Indian cop on the trail of a gangster in New York.
Sunny Deol is that cop and Kamaal Khan is that gangster villain. Their story starts back in India where Romeo (Khan) preys on public areas by planting bombs in water pipes. Romeo confesses to his crime in a church and then strangles the vicar that he has just spoken to. After his trip to the church, he meets Nihaal Singh - a naive but fierce cop (Deol). Initially reprimanding Romeo for leaving his bag behind in the car, NihaalÂ´s meeting with the gangster turns into something more sinister.
Romeo concocts a pot of lies to escape NihaalÂ´s growing suspicions. Even though he has Romeo under arrest for threatening a policeman, the kind-hearted Nihaal lets the gangster visit his Â´familyÂ´. Of course, the terrorist uses this opportunity to make his escape... An escape that allows him to carry on his deadly task of worldwide terrorism. Misunderstandings lead to Nihaal being labelled a Â´gaddaarÂ´ and the ferocious Jatt sets out to prove once and for all that he is not. The search for the criminal lands Nihaal in New York where he co-operates with the FBI to capture Romeo.
It is not surprising that "Jo Bole So Nihaal" has attracted controversy, as it is quite a bizarre film. The skin show seems awkwardly out of place in such a family comedy. Shilpi Sharma (who plays NihaalÂ´s FBI officer moll, Suzanne) and Nupur Mehta (RomeoÂ´s vamp) have little to do except show off their toned bodies. Their tiny skirts and revealing blouses are obviously there to provide titillation. This skin show demeans the strength of their characters. Disappointingly, Rahul Rawail uses the actresses as mere props when he could have had strong women to form interesting angles to the plot.
The vamp, Liza (Mehta) is shown wearing a burkha as part of a disguise job. As soon as she no longer needs the burkha, she rushes back into her old revealing clothes. In the recent "Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaye", Mahima Chaudhary also enacts a similar character who wears a burkha out of necessity and then changes into her miniskirt. There is a conflicting message here as the films are either intentionally or unintentionally projecting skin show as a form of strength and liberation while being fully clothed is shown in the extreme (burkha) and as a symbol of oppression. The sad fact is that the actresses are only forced to reveal their bodies to get noticed and therefore titillating nudity is a form of oppression itself. Sunny DeolÂ´s stepsister actress, Esha Deol, herself recently admitted that she wouldnÂ´t wear any of her revealing film costumes around her family. It is not the exposure itself that I object to but the way the director fails to realise when a skin show is inappropriate. After all, realistically, an FBI officer wouldnât wear such clothes if she wanted to be taken seriously. On top of that, Rawailâs comic caper is a misogynistic film. Liza has to cope with being slapped around by her villain lover while Suzanne is called a âwhoreâ in the name of comedy.
The world is now a global village and the 9/11 tragedy has pulled countries together either through friendship or war. No longer are films about Pakistani infiltrators on the borders of India. They are about terrorists who run worldwide operations. After bashing Pakistan in Anil SharmaÂ´s "Gadar", Sunny Deol moves onto making fun of America. Deol lashes out at the American cops for failing to stop people driving their planes and then ramming it into their buildings. This is another example of poor humour considering that 9/11 is still a very sensitive topic. It is indicative of the trap that DeolÂ´s screen image has fallen into when he still needs a country to be the receiving end of his, by now routine, anger bouts. On another level, "Jo Bole So Nihaal" partakes in the Sardar humour that Leena BajajÂ´s "Shabd" found so funny. The character, Nihaal Singh, is an unconvincing stereotype of Sikh men. ItÂ´s hard to believe that a cop could be so naive and childlike. Muslims, too, do not escape from the stereotyping curse as they are portrayed as either potential terrorists or bumbling clumsy men.
The narrative is as loose as a katcha and the climax is dragged out. The final turnaround in the plot of a secret mission to assassinate the US president does not make sense. It is a nonsensical step too far. The action scenes are mildly entertaining. The continuity person wasnât paying attention in one scene after Nihaal and Suzanne have jumped into the water. The scene shows them in a dry state when they should be wet. Kamaal Khan as a villain is about as menacing as a Teletubby. The rest of the supporting cast seem embarrassed to be there.
But there is a shining beacon in all this madness. Never mind the fact that he has to battle an ineffective villain as well as an ineffective script and cast, Sunny Deol is a delight to watch. He carries off the comic lines with ĂŠlan and his anger is still cool. You clearly deserve much better material, Mr. Deol.