The film had the potential to evoke a lot more laughs than it did.
By MovieTalkies.com, 19 June 2009
Paying Guests was never expected to be more than a slapstick comedy, which it is. But it is not one of those rib tickling comic capers which will have you rolling in the aisles. There are places and moments which are really funny granted, but the majority of the film lacks punch. This was not a problem that one expected to encounter in this movie as the director, debutant Paritosh Painter has already staged a play on which the movie is based. Apparently success on stage is no guarantee for making a successful film.
Even though Paying Guests was a successful play, the reason it does not work as a film, is probably due to the fact that there is a paucity of gags in the movie. Also the plot of the film unfolds within the first half hour or so, of the movie. There is very little material that the director has on hand to stretch the movie for its duration of two hours. With no support forthcoming from the script department, the director is hard pressed to make an engrossing film. But he does manage to hold your attention in parts. For instance, one of the main gags that he uses is that of cross dressing where you have male actors dressing up as females. But that works only so far and one is left waiting for a new gag. Also the climax of the movie seems to have been inspired, not so successfully, from the scene in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, which takes place in the midst of a historical play which is in progress in the theatre. It is a famous scene and by borrowing from it, Paritosh has made the mistake of inviting instant comparisons with the original, which is far superior.
In brief, the film's story is about four friends, boisterous and fun loving, played by Shreyas Talpade, Jaaved Jaffrey, Ashish Chowdhry and Vatsal Sheth. The guys are on the lookout for a new accommodation but are not having a very good time of it. They finally manage to convince Ballu (Johnny Lever), their landlord, to keep them as paying guest. But the landlord comes up with a condition; he will only rent his accommodation to couples and not bachelors. Our desperate friends are not fazed by this condition for too long and find a unique solution to help them solve this problem. The four merry bachelors run up against many other obstacles which provides the fuel for laughter in the movie. Incidentally, all four men have their girlfriends, who have to be placated as well.
Unfortunately, for Painter, the plot unfolds itself in the first half hour or so and there are very few surprises that he is able to spring on the audience. This becomes the film's weakest point. But its strongest point is the acting by the four protagonists and Lever. The best of the lot is Shreyas Talpade. He was excellent in Golmaal 2 recently and is the most spontaneous in Paying Guests as well. Jaaved Jaffrey matches him in comic timing and spontaneity. Ashish Chowdhry is okay while Vatsal Sheth is the weakest link. Lever is a class act as Balu, the landlord. Even Delnaaz Paul is good. Even though the leading ladies do not have much to do, Neha Dhupia and Celina Jaitley stand out. The remaining two, Riya Sen and Sayali Bhagat, are just about there in the movie. Veterans Asrani, Paintal and Viju Khote are just about okay. However, Chunky Pandey seems to be wasted in a role which has hardly any meat to it.
The film's music by Sajid Wajid's is lackluster like the movie itself. But the film has been well shot and seems to have decent production values. But the real villain here is not the actors but a strong script. Comedy is very serious business and it's time that Hindi filmmakers realize it. One cannot plunge into a comic film with just a half baked script and a few gags, like the makers of Paying Guests have done. This is a film which had the potential to evoke a lot more laughs than it did.