About the story: In a big old house in Lokhandwala near Mumbai lives an extended family, headed by grandmother Dadi (Suhashini Mulay) and uncle Harish (Prem Chopra); the responsibility as the housefather, however, lies on the shoulders of young car mechanic Adi (Shahid Kapoor) who, after his brother’s and sister-in-law’s death and because of his other brother Sunil’s (Mohnish Bahl) alcohol addiction, is the surrogate father for all eight children of the house. So that his sister Anjali (Radhika Apte) can get married well, Adi takes up a loan and for this mortgages the house. Estate shark Hirachand (Sharat Saxena) who always has casted a convetous eye on this house, realizes his chance, buys the mortgage and fakes the deadline set for Adi to repay the loan. But soon the family faces worse problems than that: Shortly after Adi and the children’s tutor Priya (Amrita Rao) discovered their love for each other, Adi dies with an accident. Together with little Shakti (Adil Badshah) who also is dead, Adi is picked up by the God of Death, Yamraj (Sanjay Dutt) who, at Adi’s pleading request, grants him and Shakti seven more days on earth – as ghosts. By the medium Fakira (Arshad Warsi), they attain the abilities they need to save Adi’s family from the intrigues of Hirachand and his helpers – while Yamraj makes acquaintance with human achievements like disco and whiskey...
Mahesh Manjrekar’s versatility is really amazing. In front of the camera an adept actor, behind the camera a director of films as different as the underworld classics Vaastav and Hathyar, thoughtful stories about pugnatious family fathers like Kurukshetra, Pitaah or Viruddh, spine-chiller thrillers like Rakht – and now also a cheerful and colourful family film which would do a Disney credit. And yes, Manjrekar can do this, too. The story about a surrogate father of a lively children horde comes very likeable and without unbearable mush – Manjrekar shot the mourning scenes after Adi’s death without holding them up to the audience’s laughter, and with a lot of respect for the feelings of those who have to face such a disaster in reality. Anyway, not everyone meets like Adi a God of Death who every now and then gets emotional.
Without the Munnabhai films, Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi! (= wow, life should be like this) without doubt would be Sanjay’s most delightful comedy film. As Yamraj, God of Death with inclination to alcohol and to emotional outbursts (meaning: snivellings) he is adorable and godlike in the true sense of the word. When he protests, "No emotional blackmail!", or when he just casts a glance at the whiskey bottle, I’m rolling on the floor laughing. Sanjay has a delightful sense of humour, and thanks to his very lively mimic art he even without words is able to express more than most of his colleagues manage with big gestures and words. And in my opinion, this is a higher art of acting than expressive dramatic.
Sanju obviously had a ball playing this modern Yamraj with cabriolet and computer equipment ("it's 2005, my boy!"), and he shapes his God of Death as a lovable big child: Behind the cool facade (very attractive in a red suit turning the God of Death in between to a veritable little devil) Yamraj hides a childlike soul and thus now and then also can become stubborn or a classical cry-baby. But never, neither when Yamraj is snivelling nor when he’s boozing, Sanjay succumbs to the danger of hamming. As Yamraj he is pure delight. In Shahid Kapoor he’s got an immensely likeable young co-star who partially (not only in the dance scene with sweet Amrira Rao at the pyramides – kind regards from K3G) astonishingly reminds of young Shahrukh Khan. The other cast members including the children are very good, and a special enjoyment is Arshad Warsi in the (unfortunately much too short) minor role of pragmatic medium Fakira.
In the end, Mahesh and Sanjay even arrange a sort of advanced Sanjay Dutt movie quiz. Those who haven’t seen the film yet and don’t want to spoil the sport, please avoid to read my attached P.S. ;) Apart from that, let me finally state, in short, that Yamraj is an absolute must-see. Cheers, Yamrajji – make us emotional!
Produced by Sangeeta Ahir; Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar
135 Min.; DVD: One, English Subtitles (including songs); after about 105 minutes there is a complete subtitle blackout in one scene. The DVD also contains a Making Of (with scenes from the music launch), deleted scenes and the deleted song "Dil Ke Maare".
P.S. Surely life is not easy for a God of Death when he is a lookalike of film star Sanjay Dutt; no wonder Yamraj is permanently confused with characters he’s never heard of. When he towards the end of the film visibly presents himself to Adi’s family and all of them burst out in a surprised "Sanjay Dutt???", Yamraj indignantly replies that he is fed up being called by strange names like Munnabhai, Khalnayak and Raghubhai (= Sanju’s three most successful roles); then he calms down and tells the family with a big grin that they should tell this Sanjay Dutt that he looks like Yamraj. (And all this is accentuated by the "Bole to" motive from Munnabhai MBBS...) Shortly thereafter his figure appears in front of Adi’s house again, but when he now is joyfully greeted with "Yamraj!", he reacts in bewilderment that this must be a confusion as his name is Sanjay Dutt and he now and then plays small movie roles. His plea for a glass of water is the cue for the children to quote several lines which show that they are perfectly familiar with Sanjay’s movies from Vaastav till Munnabhai MBBS. The scene ends with a collective "jadoo ki jhappi"... ;)