There is a scene in Nautanki Saala when the perfect evening plan has just gone wrong. Only one of them is aware of the fact. The second is too preoccupied with his disastrous performance as Ram on stage. When told, it was fine; he asks which was the best scene. The former, still recovering from his secret plan wreck, replies, "Interval." The two sip their wine in silence, their expressions perfect. The camera pulls back gently, with soft music defining the mood of the rest of the film.
Rohan Sippy's film is full of such simple, light, breezy moments that make you smile, chuckle and even clap at times. After making a thriller like 'Dum Maaro Dum' last, Sippy displays surprising panache for subtle humor and aesthetics. There are plenty of credits here. The film is based on a French play, ‘Après Vous' written by Pierre Salvadori and Benoit Graffin. The screenplay and dialogues by Nipun Dharmadhikari, Charudutt Acharya and Rohan Sippy make the film exceptionally funny and entertaining despite an unconvincing premise and predictable story.
Ram Parmar (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a stage actor and director whose life revolves around theatre where requires him to dramatize everything. The same works for his personal life too until he meets a man more dramatic than him, about to hang himself from a tree. Mandar Lele ( Kunaal Roy Kapur )takes every setback so seriously that he wants to either die or simply drink. All for a girl called Nandini Patel (Pooja Salvi).
Ram, who 'likes to play God' and help every soul in sight, forces Mandar to play Ram in his play Ravan Leela in which he plays Ravan. Little does he know that in the process of helping his newfound buddy, he will end up falling for Ram's real life Sita aka Nandini .
This old story of stealing your best friend's girl finds a charming and fresh treatment through the characters of Ram, Mandar and the 'bromance' between the two. Most of the scenes are kept simple, flow smoothly though a bit too easily and without much conflict. The humour rests on flawless performances enhanced by skillful direction, like a balcony scene where Ram and his girlfriend, Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca) react to a 'marriage proposal' with their hands on their mouth, for completely different reasons. Or the scene when Mandar gives his audition and ends up rendering a totally hilarious raga of sorts to an unintentional orchestration by the producer. The film is full of moments like these including one where both Ram and Mandar are drinking over the loss of the same girl, but unknown to Mandar.
Besides the comic moments between the friends, the romance is as sweet and fresh as the flowers the lead lady sells in the film. Here, Ayushmann simply steals the scene with a steamy, long kiss that makes Emraan Hashmi seem a novice.
Manoj Lobo's cinematography especially the way it captures the theatre setup with its curtains and glorious costumes in well lit green rooms, along Aarif Sheikh's smooth edit makes the film a pleasure to watch.
Kausar Munir's lyrics for 'dramebaaz' are light and situational. A lovely sequence involving the two friends climbing the girl's balcony, is made doubly funny because of a wonderful remix track(Mikey McCleary) of 'dhak dhak karne laga' playing in the background. Full marks to Rohan Sippy's sense of aesthetics.
Ayushmann Khurrana comes across as effortless and smooth in his comic timing and expressions. His charm is reminiscent of Shah Rukh Khan in his early days. Kunaal Roy Kapur is good but fails to match upto what Deven Verma does with Sanjeev Kumar in Angoor, considering his role demands that kind of rapport. Both the girls, Gaelyn Mendonca and Pooja Salvi are competent but lack anything special. A cameo by Abhishek Bachchan does not add any value.
Nautanki Saala, provides little drama yet is a delightful little film guaranteed to provide lots of chuckles. Besides, there is Ayushmann's memorable, sweet kiss.