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A still from <i>Hasmukh.</i>
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A Promising Premise But Lame Jokes Makes Hasmukh an Average Watch

Vir Das and Ranvir Shorey’s Hasmukh has a brilliant premise.

Updated
Movie Reviews
4 min read

A Promising Premise With Lame Jokes Makes Hasmukh an Average Watch

(Note: This review is based on the first 3 episodes of the show Hasmukh and has spoilers.)

The two basic things you need to get a watchable web-series going - first, the premise or the idea, and second, enough legs (read talent) to keep that idea going. The new Netflix series, Hasmukh, scores brilliantly on the former, and on other latter - well, not as much.

Hasmukh revolves around an aspiring stand-up comic from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, whose viagra to perform is to kill someone before he gets up on stage - that’s a fab premise, right? However, the fuel needed to keep that promising idea running full steam isn’t all there.

Written by Vir Das, Nikhil Gonsalves, Suparn Verma, Amogh Ranadive and Neeraj Pandey, Hasmukh does make for a refreshing watch but my biggest gripe is that the show fails at that very vital element which should have been one of its main strengths - the gags.

For a show that’s centred around an aspiring comedian, especially when it’s about a guy who gets his big break on national television just 2 episodes down - the jokes Hasmukh comes up with are as flat as a glass of Coke kept in the open for an entire weekend.
A still from <i>Hasmukh.</i>
A still from Hasmukh.
(Photo Courtesy: Netflix)

Set in Saharanpur, we meet an exploited Hasmukh Sudiya (Vir Das) who accidentally kills his ‘guru’, a small time but popular comedian named Gulati (Manoj Pahwa), just before he is about to perform. So, Hasmukh takes Gulati’s place, wins over the audience and seems to have his career as a stand-up comic all set. Jimmy (Ranvir Shorey), the only one who knows Hasmukh’s dirty secret, teams up as his manager and the duo are raring to go... except, they soon realise that Hasmukh is an epic fail on stage unless he kills someone before getting there. With a UP wala cop (Inaamulhaq) thrown into the mix, Hasmukh and Jimmy finally get their big break to perform on Comedy Baadshaho, a popular comedy show in Mumbai, a dream come true for Hasmukh.

There’s enough here to keep you engaged, however, I felt the urgency built into the narrative to move ahead, robs the script of what could have been some of its best moments.

One of the biggest positives of a web-series is that it allows the makers time to tread languidly at certain points and create a moment out of a scene, which not only gives us an insight into the characters and their psyche but also their motives, thought processes and so on. For instance, I would have wanted the writers to spend some time on a scene over the disposal of Gulati’s dead body. Here’s Hasmukh after his first kill, with a body to dispose, something he has never ever done before in his life. How did he go about it, what was he thinking?

A still from <i>Hasmukh.</i>
A still from Hasmukh.
(Photo Courtesy: Netflix)

Similarly, Hasmukh’s relationship with his abusive uncle and aunt, who can’t stop pawing the young aspiring comic, needed some more time and attention. The set up here reminded me of the dynamics of Lucky’s dysfunctional family in Dibakar Banerjee’s Oye Lucky Lucky Oye!, but again the pace, which almost seems in a hurry to push the story to the next big plot point, spoils the promising dynamics here.

After Hasmukh’s performance at Shamli fails, the realisation that he needs to kill to get into the ‘feel’ to perform in front of an audience comes too easily.

While the track of a Mumbai based entertainment channel that’s on the look out for a wild card entry for its comedy show is predictable, again, Hasmukh’s entry on the show comes too conveniently. Here once again, the fault lies with the gags. I would have bought it IF the jokes Hasmukh made in front of the local political leader could really make someone LOL, let alone ROFL and make his video go viral online.

A still from <i>Hasmukh.</i>
A still from Hasmukh.
(Photo Courtesy: Netflix)

It’s great to see Ravi Kishen back in action as a sleazy media head, but those close shots of his colleague’s cleavage seem totally out place here. Suggestive sleaze is fine as it defines Kishen’s character, but let’s leave the close-ups to the bawdy Alt Balaji shows please?

All said and done, Hasmukh is a breezy watch, it’s entertaining and a clutter-breaker of sorts. Actors Ranvir Shorey, Inaamulhaq, Manoj Pahwa and Ravi Kishen keep you riveted. Vir Das, who has to do much of the heavy lifting in the show, is let down by the writing. It would have been so much more easier to like Hasmukh both the person and the show if his jokes could actually light up a room be it in Saharanpur, Shamli or Mumbai.

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