The stoner comedy is a genre of films that revolve around the use of marijuana in a lightweight, usually harmless fashion. The Big Lebowski from the Coen Brothers is a stoner comedy that’s achieved cult status; even the Ashton Kutcher-Sean William Scott starrer Dude, Where’s My Car? has its share of fans. Teen Thay Bhai, starring Om Puri, Deepak Dobriyal and Shreyas Talpade has only one scene of mild drug use, a scene in which the three protagonists who play estranged brothers, meet a group of hippie girls who treat them to piping-hot parathas laced with hash. Yet, it’s probably fair to label Teen Thay Bhai as a stoner comedy, because it’s pretty clear this movie could only have been made under the influence of mind-altering substances.
The wafer-thin plot requires that the three siblings who can’t stand the sight of each other, stay together at a snowed out cottage in Himachal for a few days each year, for three consecutive years. If they can do this, they’re allowed to have the multi-crore inheritance their grandpa has left them.
You’d imagine that the film’s remarkable cast would at least exploit this slim premise for some laughs. They don’t. Saddled with a pathetic script and the kind of slapstick humor you’ve seen in Anees Bazmee-Akshay Kumar collaborations, fine actors like Om Puri are reduced to performing fart jokes.
His character, Chixie Gill is a grumpy, small-time shop owner in Bhatinda, who’s struggling to get the eldest of his three overweight daughters married. Deepak Dobriyal is middle-brother Happy Gill, a fraud dentist whose only solution for every condition is a painful tooth extraction. And Shreyas Talpade is Fancy Gill, a struggling actor in Punjabi films who dreams of moving to Hollywood. When they’re not walking into doors or falling off the roof of the house, the brothers confront each other with grievances they’ve long contained. But it’s hard to feel any empathy, not least because the very next moment they’re electrocuting each other with a tennis racket-shaped mosquito-killer.
If Teen Thay Bhai was merely slapstick, you’d settle into it after a while. But the film never finds its tone. Apart from a few inspired moments of lunacy, this movie is schizophrenic to say the least, going from spoofy to bizarre to sentimental, and yet remaining consistently dull throughout.
I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for debutant director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s Teen Thay Bhai. This isn’t merely a bad film, but a shocking one. Shocking because it wastes the talents of three excellent actors, who’d probably have been funnier if they’d been asked to improvise instead of sticking to this stinky script.