Hmm. When people said Himesh Reshammiya has a face meant for radio, I don’t think this is what they meant.
Isshaan Trivedi’s Radio is a tragedy. Mainly for Trivedi who wrote the skeleton of what could have been a good movie before letting his directing skills (or lack thereof) ruin it and Shenaz Treasurywala who deserves so much better. But in other ways as well:
Vivaan (Himesh Reshammiya) is an RJ at what sounds like the worst radio station in the world run by this weird guy in a wheelchair and a cheap cowboy hat that appears to be made out of faux leather. Perhaps car upholstery? That thing is mesmerizing.
With a boss like that, you won’t be surprised to learn that Vivaan and his squeaky voice are the star performers of the station with occasional appearances by Paresh Rawal who recycles the lamest jokes from ten years ago just, I presume, because he can. We know Vivaan’s a star because his overenthusiastic, vaguely creepy producers throw him flying kisses and squirm and all but cream their pants as he shows teensy amounts of chutzpah when being mildly insulted by the nicest girl in the world – after he left her by some random highway in the middle of the night for the crime of being nice to him on the day he got divorced. Say hello to the prince of your dreams.
Said nicest girl in the world is Shanaya (Shenaz Treasurywala). He describes her as the biggest kook he’s ever met. This is because she’s polite, hardworking, talented, kind, connected to her family, helpful, supportive, loves him, flashes a lovely smile and – oh yeah! signs of mental trouble ahead! – overshares via Facebook status updates all the time.
You can’t really blame Vivaan for being so baffled by her, though. He’s much more used to his ex-wife-from-hell Pooja (Sonal Sehgal), who’s his perfect counterpart – grumpy, scowly, bad-tempered, impolite, and supposed to be really good at her job which is to choreograph the most low rent routines you’ve ever seen outside your local dance bar. I think she’s supposed to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but she’s a total loss at that too.
Unfortunately, Vivaan and the movie he’s in don’t know that. And so we get to sit through a couple of hours of Shanaya being a good person who has to repeatedly pay for being so “strange” and Pooja being a selfish, needy, emotionally manipulative ass who we’re supposed to find sympathetic because she… uh… let me think… breaks plates at restaurants? I got nothin’. And it’s all for Vivaan, who squeaks around a whole lot about how he wants to be a singer (what? Himesh Reshammiya wants to be a singer in a movie where he’s playing the lead? NO! I never saw that coming.) and how he’s hurt and confused and the judge at his divorce had a really big gavel and a bunch of other things besides that has everybody he meets yelling, “Get a life!” except poor Shanaya and even she‘s reaching her breaking point. “You’re such an idiot,” says Pooja towards the end and the audience is all, “Duh!”
I think Radio is supposed to be a comment on modern relationships and the mess we make of them or second chances or something (it could be an ode to Trivedi’s love of montages too), but what it really taught me is that I ought to have saved my money.
Okay, but snark aside, Radio isn’t as bad as all that. It’s actually quite watchable. With another lead and a director who knew his stuff, it might even have been quite good (the scene by the highway the night Vivaan and Shanaya meet each other nearly made me cry with all the potential Trivedi squandered for the sake of a cheap punch line that didn’t even work because The Himesh couldn’t deliver it. Sadness).
With Radio, it’s clear The Himesh has made an effort to make something a little more than his usual extended fan videos. He can’t do much about his facial muscles which continue to be on strike, but he might have gotten an acting coach to help him navigate around that little problem. He still makes odd emoting decisions – the most hilarious being the way he performs Vivaan’s weird obsession with the judge’s gavel with the kind of vicious intensity Amitabh Bachchan usually reserved for spitting out news of his on-screen illegitimacy. But if you’ve suffered through his previous efforts at acting, you will notice a vast improvement. And he’s apparently found a financial model that will allow him to keep up his experiments so good for him.
The leading ladies are the ones who actually keep this movie afloat. Sonal Sehgal does her best with what she’s given, which is not much and almost all of it annoying – “I ruin everything,” says Pooja at one point and you have to agree. That she still manages to be something of a real person, albeit that person that you have a restraining order against and have nightmares about, is to her credit.
But it’s really all about Shenaz Treasurywala and how doggone cute she is. You never quite understand why she falls for grumpy old Vivaan (“He’s so simple, so basic,” she tells her puzzled friend in what I suspect is Radio‘s unwittingly best moment) but Shenaz invests Shanaya with a gentle charm and enthusiasm that makes you want to take pleasure even in her questionable decisions. It’s a little too much to see Shanaya perched at Vivaan’s crotch-level, staring up at him with stars in her eyes, though. Editing FAIL. Or do I mean Editing LOL?
But it must be said there are worse ways to spend a winter weekend than watching Shenaz Treasurywala twinkle her way through a very hummable soundtrack.