ready

Cast: Salman Khan, Asin, Paresh Rawal, Mahesh Manjrekar, Akhilendra Mishra, Sharat Saxena, Puneet Issar, Anuradha Patel, Manoj Joshi, Sudesh Lehri, Manoj Pahwa

Director: Anees Bazmi

Rating: *1/2

Suparna Sharma

I was barely half-way into Ready when images of pissing and defecating artists started crowding my head. First to arrive was Italian artist Piero Manzoni who, in 1961, stuffed 90 tiny cans, each with 30 grams of his stuff, labelled them “Merda d’Artista” (Artist’s Shit), and sent them around the world to be bought at the price of 30 grams of gold. Manzoni’s excreta stunt was meant “to expose the gullible nature of the art-buying public”.

Paris’s Pompidou Museum, New York’s MoMA have these cans, and in 2002, Tate Gallery paid £22,300 to get one for themselves. About half of the original 90 cans have already exploded, as the artist intended. Expanding gasses and all that.
Then there was Andy Warhol and his Oxidisation paintings, better known as “Piss Paintings”. In late Seventies, Warhol slapped some copper metallic pigment on canvases and then pissed on them. Even invited his friends to piss on them. Urine reacted with the chemicals, “creating a mass of lines and squiggles”.

THAT THERE is a lot of urine in Ready is not entirely the point — Salman Khan pisses; asks us to go pee; little giggling boys piss on the bad guys. It’s more than that. It’s the fact that piss was on Salman Khan’s mind all through the making of Ready, in the sense of taking the piss out of his producers, fans, co-actors and his own super-stardom.
Ready arrived in cinema halls on Friday, riding on the cute tails of Dabangg. But it really is Salman Khan’s pee-break between Dabangg 1 and 2. Since it is Salman Khan peeing, initially it’s funny. But soon there is a stink, a strong scent of putrefaction.

WE ARE told that we are in Thailand where a large garrulous Kapoor family occupies a mansion with a garden, a pool and a desi neighbour. We are introduced to the three Kapoor brothers — Ram (Mahesh Manjrekar), Laxman and Bharat (Manoj Joshi and Manoj Pahwa), and their three wives. Prem (Salman Khan) is Ram’s son. Everybody gets along with everybody here.
It’s Prem’s padosan and friend Khushi’s (Zarine Khan) wedding. Guests are arriving but Khushi has tied up her groom and left with Prem. No, no, not to get married, but to join him in a song and dance routine. You see, before heading to the registrar’s office to get her married to the man she loves, Salman Khan must tick off his critics by shaking his butt to Main karoon toh saala character dheela hai.
This is our first cue that we’ll be dealing mostly with Salman Khan the star, and his conceit.
Anyway, Khushi gets married and this scene springs three surprises. Miniscule, but sweet.
Then, back to the Kapoors. This household is happy but has some afflictions. One is that the eldest, Ram, is very forgetful and says “woh” for every noun, each verb — a significant source of mirth in the film. Two, Prem won’t marry. But when Panditji suggests the ideal girl for Prem, one Puja who is to arrive from America, everyone is hopeful and Prem is sent to pick her up. Since Prem is not interested, he goes to the wrong terminal.
But here another girl (Asin), this one in full bridal gear and trying to dodge goonda-types, overhears Prem’s conversation about Puja whom no one has seen, pretends to be Puja and orders Prem to take her home.
She arrives and the Kapoors ask, pray tell, girl, why you travelled from America to Thailand in lehenga-choli, bangles-necklace, and she replies, since I am going to be your bahu, what better avatar to dazzle you with. Impressed smiles and nods all around.
But Prem’s eyebrows are wriggling even as he and his chachaji are providing a mildly amusing running commentary about this khurrat, kamini and honhar prospective bahu.
Prem tries to drive her away, but she pataos the family, swats away the real Puja, and tells Prem that she won’t scare easy.
But one outing in the forest, with her dangling over a cliff, begging Prem to let her climb onto him, and the truth is out. She is Sanjana and is hiding from her two mamajis, warring dons, one in black and the other in white. They are after the `200 crores that her mother left her, and plan to forcibly marry her to their salas.
Hmmm. So, pretty girl was all bluster and is in real danger. Prem’s heart melts.
Prem, who doesn’t seem to be gainfully occupied, says he could write the mamajis a cheque, but would like to use this opportunity to teach them some values, bring the two brothers together, and make Sanjana his own.

Sanjana goes to mamaji in black, Prem takes a leak, a stink begins to rise.

Prem quickly attaches himself to Baliram (Paresh Rawal), a chartered accountant serving both don-mamas, and hereon begins his journey to delivering the climatic moral science lesson. En route are some funny skits (the ones involving one Mr Lahri are decent), many agonising ones, Dinka Chika set to real bad choreography and one elaborate charade with the full participation of the Kapoor elders — they pose as rich but homely tycoons with two eligible heiress daughters.
The Neanderthal mamajis and their boys are pruned and cleaned up, and taught a thing or two about respecting elders and relationships. All this is accompanied to fights, banter, repeated references to Salman Khan’s old hits, and, of course, there is The Shirt Scene. The film flits between Thailand and India so quickly and so often that I was, by the end of it, feeling jetlagged.
Ready’s screenplay is made up of a retard’s squiggles. Nonsensical rubbish is pulled together just so Salman Khan has enough time and people to kick, humiliate, preach and romance.
Salman’s real life keeps crashing into Prem and the film. For this sort of character to be bearable, everyone around him has to be an imbecile. So Salman is put in a sea of zombies — people cry, fly, laugh and grovel when he commands. Sad.
Perhaps, Salman Khan sees the hollowness of the circus around Salman the star and wants to test how far will people go. Not very far, someone should tell him.

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