Made In China begins on a zany note. A top-ranking Chinese official visiting Ahmedabad comes to a sorry pass after ingesting what looks suspiciously like an aphrodisiac. A tale of vim-and-vigour-laced-with-viagra in dry Gujjuland? Finally, a genuinely adult sexcapade? The initial bits keep up the light tone and there are some laughs to be had, but all too soon, as it happens so often in Bollywood, everything goes limp.
Which is a crashing pity because this film has Rajkummar Rao, who can make anything better. Here he plays Raghu Mehta, an entrepreneur full of the most bizarre ideas, and the most enthusiastic bounce-backs when they, inevitably, tank. And then one fine day, a Chinese welsher dangles a carrot in the shape of a powder that will make men go jiggity-jog, and Raghu falls for it.
Or at least that’s what we are given to think. But, tauba tauba, a Bollywood hero sinking so low as to actually peddle stuff that makes people happy in bed? If only. If only the film had had the, um, appropriate nether body parts to go down that route, it would have been a hoot.
But it chickens out, and becomes a finger-wagging exercise in telling people that Sex Is Not A Dirty Thing, and That Indians Are So Many In Number Because Our Parents and Our Grandparents Did It. The film comes up with an irascible sexologist (Irani) to convey this message to us, the unwashed masses, completely forgetting that we got the memo long back.
It’s not like there isn’t any attempt to create kooky characters: a couple of CBI sleuths who show up to investigate the mysterious death have a few ha-ha lines, a wealthy businessman (Rawal) tells our hero that all customers are asses (the vulgar Hindi cuss word used in the film is blipped out, but is meant to be lip read), and a management guru (Gajraj) trots out silly slogans by the dozen. But they stay unrealised. Criminally, Vyas is wasted in an inconsequential part. And the sultry Roy comes on only to pout and sulk.
Irani who has had long practice in being a curmudgeon, offers able support to Rao who keeps this thing afloat, in a few inspired bits. But the laughter is strictly occasional because it keeps coming up against confusion. What does Made In China want to be ? A double-meaning-dialogue-laden romp-in-the-sheets, or a go-to sex manual for repressed Indians? It veers, alas, towards the pulpit.
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