Cast: Himesh Reshammiya, Zoya Afroz, Ananth Mahadevan, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Sonali Raut, Irrfan, Adil Hussain, Bharat Dhabolkar, Jesse Randhawa, Rajesh Sharma
Director: Ananth Mahadevan
IE Rating: **
Late 60s. Bombay. Glittering film awards night. Boisterous post party. Glamour girl plunges to death from a high window. Who is the killer?
Pardon the telegram style reporting, but ‘The Xpose’ begs to be written about in the way it should have panned out. The murder mystery set in the backdrop of big bad tinseltown should have been pacy and cheesy and racy, but ends up being a bit of a drag. Despite all the fun and games.
How can anything that sends up a great era of Hindi cinema, where stars lived kingsize in mansions with curved staircases, be anything but full on entertainment? To an extent, ‘The Xpose’ does succeed. Himesh, he of the trademark peaked cap who has now sports a full head of hair, plays superhero Ravi Kumar. He used to be a tough cop, is now on suspension, and has arrived in Bombay films. “Styling aap karo, attitude mujh par chhodd do”, our hero—togged out in fancy trenchcoats and dark glasses–tells the man ( Mahadevan) who wants to make him a star.
Two struggling starlets Zara and Chandni (newcomers Zoya and Sonali respectively) vie for his attention, and for everyone else’s. There’s the talent-less but popular singer ( Yo Yo ) who is making moves on an older woman ( Randhawa). Dhabolkar plays a balding `filmi’ sleaze, lying around in hotel rooms, and preying upon vulnerable wannabes. And there are all kinds of characters who seem familiar ( the film does alert you that it borrows from ‘real life’).
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Part of the fun is in speculating who’s who. Is Ravi Kumar, Raj Kumar or Rajesh Khanna or a cross between both ? It could be either, but my money is on the former. Are the girls, who have a cat-fight right in the middle of the party, meant to be standing in for Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman? A media magnate is called Hira. And the producer of ‘Ujwal Nirmal Sheetal’ is a shoo-in for Raj Kapoor : the sets and the wet half-sari-no-blouse outfit the heroine is wearing are right out of ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’.
If they had maintained the tone, ‘The Xpose’ would have been a hoot. But songs get stuffed in, a love angle slows things, and it gets stuck in cop stations and courts. They should have just kept the cheese thick. Here’s a sampler, from early in the film. A producer tells an aspirant : “na dance na expression na pose, sirf xpose!”. Classic. Nothing more would have been needed.