The President Is Coming

The President Is Coming kickstarts the year with exactly the sort of lift we’ve been looking for — it’s free-spirited,irreverent,and funny.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published:January 10, 2009 4:38 am

Cast: Konkona Sen Sharma,Ira Dubey,Shernaz Patel,Namit Das,Vivek Gomber,Satchit Puranik,Shivani Tanksale,Anand Tiwari,Imran Rasheed

Director: Kunaal Roy Kapoor

The President Is Coming kickstarts the year with exactly the sort of lift we’ve been looking for — it’s free-spirited,irreverent,and funny.

George Bush coming to India in 2006 was fact; what happens in the film is fiction – the anointing of one young Indian as the person who will shake Bush’s hand. The 100-minute mockumentary,the first out of Bollywood,takes a series of savagely hilarious digs at the whole I-want-to-get-to-America-at-any-cost thing – the lust for green cards,H1-B visas,truckloads of greenbacks. It also tells you that hey,India may not be such a bad place,after all.

The six short-listed candidates are put through their paces by a two-woman PR agency (Shernaz-Shivani),and the race to the finish line is peppered with smart characterisation: a Bengali novelist who is passionate about tribal midgets (Konkona),a Delhi heiress to a cosmetic company and a complete daddy’s girl (Ira),a Marathi ‘manoos’ who’s a delish combo of a language fascist/ social worker/ anti-capitalist (Puranik),a South-Indian software nerd who publicly slobbers over the female sex to hide his gay self (Das),a Gujju stock-loving fellow who thinks the Ambanis are the richest guys in the world (Tiwari),and an accent-trainer from Gurgaon who’s dying to get back home (Gomber). And that’s,of course,the US.

The tough part about doing regional types is the stereotypes you can drown your characters in. But debutant director Kunaal Roy Kapoor and writer Anuvab Pal,who were involved with the smash-hit play of the same name that ran in Mumbai last year,make sure there are enough sharply-observed quirks to keep us amused. “I’m like,Archana,and like,that’s my pathetic boyfriend” — Ira Dubey’s stinking rich Dilliwali is pitch-perfect. So is Anand Tiwari’s superb Kapil Dev Dholakia who thinks everything can be bought,even hand-shaking contests which play out like reality TV,and who probably counts stocks instead of sheep,in bed.

There are several little gaps in the gag-a-minute pace,where things lapse,making attention wander. But the curve never flattens enough to flatline. The President Is Coming,produced by Rohan Sippy,picks up from where it left off,and you’re laughing again.

Is a new wave in Bollywood coming?

shubhra.gupta@gmail.com

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