Situational comedies - you know the kind where characters run helter-skelter generally to protect and protest against excesses of love and libido - are hard to pull off, more so in Hindi where the language renders itself to diverse dimensions and distortions which dilute the impact of the drollery.
"No Entry" manages to do the near impossible: it does a sex comedy without overt sex and vulgarity. The upmarket, high profile star cast ensures a high quality, cleaned out satirical scenario freed of annoying innuendos.
Nonetheless, the swiftly flowing slapstick replete with grossly overblown dollops of mistaken identity and other intensely corny contrivances take the comedy this farce, and no more.
Farcical comedies about infidelity are not alien to Hindi cinema. B.R. Chopra's "Pati Patni Aur Woh" gave the late and great Sanjeev Kumar a chance to do the incorrigible flirtatious husband with a deadpan ingenuity that his successors have found hard to replicate.
Salman Khan did one in David Dhawan's "Biwi No 1". His role as Prem the skirt chaser with an incredibly gullible wife (Esha Deol) seems a carryover from Dhawan's earlier marital farce.
In fact, a lot of the material in this over-extended tryst with the titters seems to owe allegiance to the David Dhawan school of thought. Writer-director Anees Bazmi is ensured a sizeable chuckle from the audience by the suspiciously misogynist bent of the dialogue.
Except for Bipasha Basu, the women are portrayed as either screeching and whining or stupid.
For an intelligent actress like Lara Dutta playing a melodramatic and over-suspicious Punjabi wife (very similar to what Tabu played in Biwi No 1, though Lara's Punjabi accent keeps slipping in and out) requires all the acting skills at her disposal. Lara and the rest of the cast derive a great deal of pleasure from the at-work-but-in-leisure mood of the naughty comedy.
Among the guys Anil Kapoor (playing the bullied husband for the second time in two weeks after "My Wife's Murder") is bang on with his comic timing. Fardeen Khan as Kapoor's associate and sidekick tends to get hammy in the hysterical moments. Like the rest of the cast, Fardeen musters enough mirth to keep us interested in the inane in-through-the-outdoor mood of the comedy.
The men are constantly chasing the women, while their spouses are constantly chasing their skirt-chasing husbands. The confusions of infidelity (including Boman Irani, doing another delightful little turn as an unctuous politician with a battleship for a wife) are gross examples of political incorrectness.
But who's looking for rhyme in a madcap comedy without reason?
Bazmi's satirical skills are evident in the way he designs some of the more prominent "items"(that's what the sequences seem to be). The uniformly well tuned performances help give the film the timbre of a tightly wound humour. Alas, the comedy runs out of steam after a while.
If only our directors knew where to flag down the farce before tedium attacks and humour begins to wane. Also the songs, all jukebox style and done on sets that seem to have been cart-lifted from MTV's storerooms, do nothing except add ersatz adrenaline to the racy narration.
"No Entry" is a workable sex comedy. Unlike "Masti" and "Kya Kool Hain Hum", this one steers clear of bilgy babble and vulgar gestures. It also creates a compendium of original images representing the rapid-fire fadeout of that immensely popular genre known as the drama of infidelity.
Marriage as an institution is held up for considerable satirical scrutiny, bordering on ridicule. As in earlier sex comedies the guys are shown to be cunning Casanovas while the women are happy being seductively daft.
The exception is Bipasha Basu whose fiery-siren act as the bargirl and hooker named Bobby has a lot of inner strength and chutzpah. Bipasha's powerful pouty presence is finally negated by a sob story that's appended to her character. Apparently Bobby just "seemed" to be having fun while hooking guys. In reality she's a woman collecting money for her ailing husband's hospital bills.