Rajeev Masand, with a media career spanning 16 years, does film shows – Masand Ki Pasand (on Star News), Rajeev Masand Ki Pasand (currently on IBN7) and Now Showing on CNN-IBN. Twice adjudged ‘Best Entertainment Critic’ by the National Television Awards (2008 & 2010), he is currently working on his first book.
Desi Boyz stars Akshay Kumar and John Abraham as Jerry and Nick, best friends in London who lose their jobs when recession hits. Broke and desperate, they sign up to be male escorts – because naturally that’s the only job still available during a financial meltdown!
As bird-brained an idea as this may be, at least it promises not to be a prudish affair. But hell, no! Debut director Rohit Dhawan picks an unconventional premise, but doesn’t have the courage to run with it. So our hustler heroes – renamed Rocco and Hunter – might be happy to strip down to their shorts and shake their bon-bons suggestively at bachelorette parties, but bankrupt or not, their ‘Indian values’ are very much in place, hence sex is not on the menu. (Believe it or not, women pay 400 pounds to these guys for playing cards with them and chatting with them through the night!) Also, Jerry and Nick become escorts not because they’re lazy or have too much pride to do menial jobs (both of which are true, by the way), but because one has to raise an orphaned nephew, and the other has a high-maintenance fiancee demanding a fancy wedding. Poor things!
Despite this blatant hypocrisy, Desi Boyz coasts along harmlessly through its first half, with a few clever dialogues thrown in, and some pleasant chemistry between its male leads. Whoever came up with the terrific idea of giving the boys a kind of telepathic connection where they communicate without words, deserves a pat on the back. Alas, it’s an idea that’s abandoned halfway through the film.
Also abandoned at the halfway mark, is any pretence that this was trying to be a different film. Post intermission Desi Boyz becomes yet another regular ‘family entertainer’. Nick’s fiancée (Deepika Padukone) breaks up with him after a video of their naughty dance moves goes viral, and child welfare hands over Jerry’s nephew to a foster family. To win back his girl, Nick moves into a caravan that he parks in her driveway and woos her relentlessly; meanwhile Jerry decides to complete college and find a respectable job so he might convince the court that he can be a responsible guardian. Luckily for Jerry, he gets to mix up his studies with fun when he encounters a sexy Economics professor (Chitrangada Singh) who offers to tutor him strip-poker style.
The film’s idea of entertainment is some Namastey London-style jingoistic patriotism, a smattering of homophobic jokes, some unintentionally comical lectures on love and forgiveness, and a far-too-long climatic courtroom scene that ends on an embarrassingly regressive note.
Desi Boyz borrows scenes from The Full Monty, Back To School, and Fight Club even, but at its heart it’s not very different from Sajid Khan’s similarly unremarkable Heyy Babyy. Akshay Kumar and John Abraham perform earnestly and get a few moments to shine, but the gorgeous Deepika Padukone gets none. The greatest disservice, however, is done to Chitrangada Singh. Clothed in fancy designer togs, buried under pancake, and saddled with a thankless part, the actress is robbed of her smoldering presence, and homogenized into the mould of a typical Bollywood starlet.
Yet, the film isn’t unwatchable. Pritam’s soundtrack has some winning tunes, and the musical numbers are shot deliciously. What fails Desi Boyz in the end is that it’s such a generic, indifferent film. Rohit Dhawan leaves no directorial imprint for a first-time filmmaker, and there’s little in this movie that you haven’t seen before.
I’m going with two out of five for Desi Boyz. Go in with modest expectations and perhaps you won’t come out dissatisfied.
Rating: 2 / 5