Banner: Maddock Films, Jio Cinemas
Producer: Dinesh Vijan
Director: Mikhil Musale
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Boman Irani, Paresh Rawal, Mouni Roy, Sumeet Vyas, Mohan Joshi, Gajraj Rao, Abhishek Banerjee, Amyra Dastur
Writers: Mikhil Musale, Karan Vyas, Parinda Joshi, Niren Bhatt
Comedy is one of the most difficult genres to execute and there is no denying that just having a good premise is not enough. It has to be supported by stellar writing, both in screenplay and dialogue, along with a cast that can nail the comic timing. And if it is a comedy that does not rely on slapstick, this factor becomes all the more important. Add to that a comedy based on a taboo subject, and the task becomes all the more challenging.
Mikhil Musale, who makes his Bollywood directorial debut with Made In China, attempts all of the above-mentioned elements. The film is a challenging task and more so for a first-time Bollywood director.
Raghuvir Mehta is a man with dreams. He has a family business of selling Nepali carpets, but he aspires to be an entrepreneur. When he is not coming up with ideas to make money, he is watching videos of successful businessman Abhay Chopra. His wife Rukmani is his constant support in everything he does. His uncle and cousin Devraj are well-to-do and provide his family with financial help when needed. But with that also come constant humiliation and taunts about his various failed ventures.
Under the pretext of helping him, Devraj takes Raghu to China where he has a business meeting with Tanmay Shah, a marketing guru. Tanmay takes an immediate liking to Raghu and gives him some business advice. When Raghu accidentally stumbles upon a Chinese virility product, encouraged by Tanmay's words he decides to start selling it in India. He connects with sexologist Dr Vardhi and the two along with a small team of well-wishers start RV Corporation and their product is Magic Soup! After a few initial hiccups the soup starts selling like hotcakes. But then a major incident puts everything in jeopardy including Raghu's family life.
What exactly is this incident? How does it affect Raghu? Does Vardhi and Raghu's partnership survive this calamity? What happens to his relationship with Rukmani? All that and more unravels as the story progresses.
The writers of Made In China have an interesting premise at hand. There is plenty of scope for jokes and at the same time to talk about the issue they want to highlight. They manage to tick almost all the boxes except that the film falters slightly in execution. While the film at its heart is the story of Raghu but the underlying message is how as a society we still cringe to talk about sex and sex-related issues. And the writing takes some time to get to this point, even though sporadically we get glimpses of the issue being highlighted in some scenes. And these are the moments that lift the film. The dialogue is definitely funny and subtle enough to create the needed impact. Full marks to the art and camera department for capturing the life of a middle-class struggling businessman from Ahmedabad as well as the busy and crowded streets of China. The music has the flavour of Gujarat and is used decently well in the narrative, without being overindulgent.
There are three really standout performances in the film. First, there is Rajkummar Rao who takes on Raghu with absolute ease. He captures the nuances of not just the language but also the mannerisms. The slight paunch and unibrow are a good match to the vulnerability and innocence of his character. At the same time, he exudes the right amount of sincerity and shrewdness that Raghu would have. Then there is Boman Irani. As Dr Vardhi he is a treat to watch. He has the best lines and he delivers them as if they were second nature to him. And it is this simplicity in his approach that makes every punchline land perfectly. There are two scenes in which he really shines, the seminar on sex, glimpses of which are seen in the trailer, and his monologue in the climax. And finally, we have Paresh Rawal. The seasoned actor has just three to four scenes, but he hits the nail on the head every time he comes on screen. As Tanmay Shah, he is a delight. Gajraj Rao as Abhay Chopra is underutilised. An actor of his calibre should have had more to do. Sumeet Vyas as Devraj and Manoj Joshi as his father have nothing much to do. Mouni Roy as Rukmani has her moments, but she mostly seems like a misfit in the role.
Verdict: An entertaining watch with a relevant message