Since the country went into lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, two stand-up comedians have gained national prominence. One is Saloni Gaur aka Nazma Aapi and second, Danish Sait. Both these comics make funny one-minute videos for social media, reacting to the top news of the day. The difference is Gaur picks one of her various characters and sticks to it throughout the sketch. But, Danish uses several characters such as a well-read urban wife, a Hindi-speaking maid, always grumpy Ram Murthy uncle, a group of laidback boys who always end their sentences with a ‘dude’ just to sound hip. And yes, a Tamil-speaking drunkard who always misspeaks. These characters that populate Danish’s skits represent the vibrant, cosmopolitan Bengaluru.
Bengaluru is not all about massive IT tech parks, malls, pubs, restaurants and traffic jams. The city is the melting pot of numerous languages, cultures and religions. Like Danish’s funny videos, his latest film French Biriyani shines light on the cultural diversity of Bengaluru that rarely gets acknowledged in mainstream movies.
Director Pannaga Bharana has consciously steered clear of all swanky features of the city. The story unfolds in the streets of Shivajinagar. And Pannaga guides the audience through the cramped streets of the area with the help of the protagonist, Asgar (Danish Sait). Asgar is a stereotypical poor Muslim youth, who hardly gets a nod in mainstream movies. But, in French Biriyani, he is the hero of the story.
In a case of mistaken identity, Simon (Sal Yusuf), a French national, gets mixed-up with the business of a local gangster. He ends up hiring the services of Asgar to take him to his high-end hotel. And after a series of twists and turns, Asgar becomes Simon’s only hope to survive the chaotic streets of the city.
What makes this film truly cosmopolitan is each character remains culturally distinct and yet coexist. They speak different dialects and yet they understand each other so well. And is there a better way to pay tribute to a city which is as diverse as Bengaluru?
But, how does French Biriyani fare in the humour department? Not bad. The first half of the movie is full of improv humour following the terrifying experiences of the French national. And add to that Danish’s flawless Urdu mixed with urban Kannada dialect, you get plenty of funny moments over the course of two hours. If you are a bit familiar with Bengaluru’s street talk, then this mindless comedy gets even more relatable.
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