About the story: Johnny (Sanjay Dutt) and Jimmy (Saif Ali Khan) are two small-time crooks who end up in the same prison cell with clock-like regularity and who are not exactly fond of each other. When one day Jimmy encounters a dying accountant on the street who in his dying moments mentions Rs 30 crores hidden in the Hotel Rocksea, both crooks become waiters in this hotel. From now on they are occupied with three things: a) looking for the money, b) to get rid of each other, c) courting beautiful women. Johnny wins the heart of the hotel owner Pooja (Bipasha Basu) while her friend Kim (Kim Sharma) becomes involved with Jimmy. Johnny and Jimmy attract the attention of the hotel’s employee Balram (Shakti Kapoor) who acquired aforementioned Rs. 30 crores by fraudulent means and who orders his right hand man Diler (Mukesh Rishi) and his brothers to kill Pooja and the two waiters in addition to the accountant. They do not succeed and instead Balram himself is assassinated on Mauritius – much to the annoyance of Johnny and Jimmy who need him alive for their purposes and are now occupied with keeping the dead body "alive"...
I have had my share of painful experiences with Sanjay in brainless comedies and the animated credits revived bad memories of dead losses like Ek Aur Ek Gyarah and similar "masterpieces". But in comparison Nehlle Pe Dehlla (= ten on nine) is on the whole quite bearable, and at least Sanjay is not overacting. And when Sanjay does not overact even the most stupid movie usually can be salvaged to some extent.
And sorry, but the plot of Nehlle Pe Dehlla requires no brain-power whatsoever. Two small-time crooks chasing a large amount of money is ok, but to keep on dragging a body through all slapstick-situations imaginable and to revive it at the end as a dancing zombie with the help of black magic, is asking all involved to leave their brains at the door (maybe with the exception of Shakti Kapoor who as the body in question has to endure everything stoically).
Apparently, the makers of the movie were so preoccupied by the thought of what one could inflict on a dead body that they had little time left for such important matters as for example witty dialogue or really good slapstick which would not be out of place in a comedy. Though what the movie lacks in this respect is made up by Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan with their hilarious facial expressions and their occasionally dry as dust humour. They are masters in this respect anyway, and when after a somewhat lame start their interaction becomes better and better the two hours of the movie do not feel like a complete waste of time. As least less of a waste than what becomes of the part of the leading ladies: Bipasha Basu is reduced to being a beautiful clothe-horse, Kim Sharma has to hide any hint of sex-appeal behind childish behaviour and Neha Dhupia’s item number is relegated to the end credits.
Nehlle Pe Dehlla was ill-favoured from the start. The shooting went on for several years, repeatedly disrupted by the producer’s financial problems which occupied the courts up to the last minute before the movie’s release in March 2007. At this point, Sanjay and Saif apparently had given up on the movie and did nothing in terms of pre-release promotion. Sanjay had admitted frankly some years earlier (Filmfare 7/2004) that his initial interest in the movie evaporated with the protracted financial difficulties and the continual cancellation of dates for filming. Only his sympathy for the producer’s problems and his professional attitude stopped him from walking out altogether. He, like Saif, continued to find dates for a movie which was already doomed and could only end up as patchwork. However, one has to acknowledge that there are not too many continuity errors and the movie comes together as a coherent piece, especially in the second half. This is nothing to be sneezed at as in this respect Sanjay has far worse skeletons in his cupboard.
Produced by Mahendra Dhariwal; Directed by Ajay K. Chandok
124 Min.; DVD: Shemaroo, English Subtitles (including songs)
© Diwali; Translated by gebruss