I've come to realize that sometimes you need to stick with a Bollywood film until the intermission (or halfway through) before taking a decision as to whether it is worth watching through to the end. If the first half of the film seems somewhat weak or the characters are overacting, stick with it. At some point the storyline will suddenly take a meaningful turn, new characters will arrive, or a plot twist will be tossed in - completely changing the tone of the film.
A perfect example of this can be found in the 2007 comedy Heyy Babyy which takes a while to get off the runway, but once it does, it soars. The film is a remake of the 1987 Hollywood film Three Men and a Baby.
The comedy begins with three roommates - Arush Mehra (Akshay Kumar), Tanmay Joglekar (Ritesh Deshmukh) and Ali Haider (Fardeen Khan). These playboys live in Sydney, Australia and spend their time hanging out at the nightclub "Greed", objectifying women. They are the type of men you want your daughter to steer clear of.
When a baby girl is dropped on their doorstep, their lives suddenly change. One of them is the baby's biological father. But who?
They couldn't have picked a cuter baby to play this role. And she even has dimples. They name the baby "Angel."
The boys' attempts at taking care of Angel reduce them to incompetent bumbling idiots - perfect entertainment for an audience of children but a bit tiresome for those of us who are parents. When the baby's life is put in danger and our characters realize they have to change their ways, the film begins the transition from silly to sincere.
However, it is the introduction of the characters Bharat Sahni (Boman Irani) and his daughter Isha (Vidya Balan) that really makes the story come to life. Isha is the baby's mother and her presence is a welcome counterpoint to the silliness of Arush, Tanmay, Ali and Bharat - who manages to generate belly laughs in his own sphere of influence.
It is this introduction of Isha as the "straight man" in the story that allows us to better appreciate the eccentric behavior of the other players, making several scenes laugh-out-loud funny.
For anyone who has seen the film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Heyy Babyy features a wonderful related dialogue. While Isha is in search of a husband and father for Angel, she attends a wedding with her father Bharat and Tanmay (who Isha understands is a potential suitor). They meet up with Malhotra (Anupam Kher) a childhood friend of Bharat. When Malhotra learns that Isha is still single, he tries to introduce her to Raj.
Tanmay: Raj? Who is Raj?
Malhotra: My son!
Bharat: But Raj was supposed to get married to Simran ...
Malhotra: But before the wedding Simran ran away. Sim ... ran away. I wish she had missed the train. But it is a strange coincidence. I come here to bless someone else's daughter on her wedding and I find a bride for my son.
Isha: Uncle, I have a big problem.
Malhotra: There are no problems before marriage! The problems start after the marriage. Bharat, you should have told her. But don't be afraid. Raj will solve your problems. He is right here in Sydney. I will call him up. (His phone doesn't work. He turns to Isha.) Here you go. I am not getting the network. Please give me your mobile phone.
Isha: I don't have it.
Malhotra: You don't have a phone? And that too in Sydney! (Turning to Tanmay.) Please give me your phone ...
Tanmay: I don't have a mobile phone because it causes brain tumors and cancer and millions of people are dying in Somalia ...
Malhotra: Due to the mobile phone?
Tanmay: No, of hunger!
Malhotra: Hunger ... (Turning to Bharat) Why don't you give me your phone?
Bharat: I don't have a phone.
Malhotra: You, too, don't have a phone! That too in Sydney! (Bharat's phone rings in his pocket.) Ha, ha, ha, ha ... naughty boy! You are lying to me. Give me the phone! Give me the phone... Give it to me!
This scene continues with attempts to prevent Malhotra from calling Raj - even to the point of throwing Bharat's cell phone to the ground. Several times.
Arush appears in disguise as "the wedding singer" and the humor rises to a whole new level. Finally connecting to the network, Malhotra's phone rings - his ringtone being "Tujhe Dekha To" - and Malhotra tells Raj to come to the wedding to meet Isha. Arush and Bharat convince Tanmay to propose to Isha before Raj arrives.
To move things along, Arush takes to the floor as the wedding singer. What follows is the delightful "Mast Kalandar" item number which is memorable both for the antics of Arush, Tanmay, and Bharat as well as for the appearance of Raj Malhotra. Regarding the song's title, Bollynook explains:
Kalandars/Qalandars are wandering ascetic Sufi saints. Qalandar is also a title given to a unmarried saint who is at a very high level of spirituality. Qalandars are considered chosen saints of God Almighty. They are different from other saints and they have very strong feelings of love in them. Qalandars, amongst the saints, are those persons who enjoy freedom from the ties and bounds of time and space.
The lyrics of "Mast Kalandar" can be translated as:
It is a matter of the heart my darling.
This heart is out of control.
My heart is restless!
O Mast, Mast Kalandar!
O Mast, Mast, Mast, Mast, Mast Kalandar!
Mast, Mast, Mast, Mast, Mast Kalandar!
The moment I saw you.
The moment my restlessness disappeared.
My loneliness also disappeared.
Your beauty and your splendor has cast a spell on me.
With my situation and my pain, you still don't know.
It is a matter of the heart!
There is magic in your mannerisms.
It has driven me crazy.
My desire tells me to make you mine.
You are my desire! You are my passion!
You are my aspiration.
Without you I am so ignorant!
It is a matter of the heart!
I have brought lots of love.
Know me. Recognize me.
There is only one face in front of my eyes.
Believe it or not.
My desire! My relief!
My aspirations are cheerful!
In my dreams there is someone beloved.
Matter of the heart!
While Heyy Babyy suffers from some ridiculous scenes and hokie dialogues, it is a film worth seeing for its humor and heart. It is a definite entertainer that you may find yourself falling in love with.
Here is "Mast Kalandar" from Heyy Babyy, composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, sung by Shankar Mahadevan, Master Saleem, Rehan Khan and picturized on Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Deshmukh, Vidya Balan, Boman Irani, Anupam Kher and Shah Rukh Khan.