After ‘Khandaani Shafakhaana’ this year, ‘Made in China’ seems as another attempt to breakthrough the formula created by Ayushmann Khurrana starrers (‘Vicky Donor’, ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan’, ‘Badhaai Ho’) to start conversations around social taboos, while cleverly infusing humour for entertainment. However, the latest Rajkummar Rao film seems unsure about which path does it want to tread.
Raghuvir Mehta (Rao) is an entrepreneur based in Ahmedabad, who has helmed multiple enterprises that have sooner or later failed. From seeking business in selling emu’s eggs or Nepali carpets, he’s tried it all, much to the condescension of his elder uncle (Manoj Joshi) cousin Devraj (Sumeet Vyas) and the frustration of his wife, Rukmani (Mouni Roy). Devraj suggests that Raghu accompanies him to China to study the market for fitness-related products. In China, Raghu’s chance encounters with an enigmatic Indian businessman Tanmay Shah (Paresh Rawal) and a Chinese businessman dealing in aphrodisiacs leads him to understand that India is a booming market for the former, given the sex-starved population’s need and their shame to talk about it. He decides to explore the idea of opening sex clinics with a popular sexologist Dr. Vardhi (Boman Irani) as its face and making money by the side through the sale of a magic soup that will help in boosting male libido.
Based on Parinda Joshi’s novel by the same name, the screenplay, written by National-Award winning director Mikhil Musale, Karan Vyas and Niren Bhatt, tries to combine a social taboo and the entrepreneurial Gujarati mind to weave a narrative laced with humour, but the execution is lazy and convoluted. The dialogues by Vyas and Bhatt are observational and some draw occasional laughs, but there are few and far in-between. Manan Ashwin Mehta’s editing is sloppy, especially in the first half where viewers aren’t able to grasp the plot till the interval. Neither does the music nor the background score by Sachin-Jigar add any respite to keep you interested. Infact, it’s manipulative that the soundtrack seems to have been designed to cater to the festive period than add value to the story.
The performances too aren’t particularly remarkable. We’ve seen Rajkummar essay more memorable parts in ‘Shahid’, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’, ‘Newton’ and ‘Stree’. With ‘Made in China’, the attempts to bank upon Rao’s popularity seem desperate. His characterisation which includes a unibrow, a paunch and a stereotypical Gujarati accent seems like a rip-off from ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma’. Inspite of featuring a cast of bankable actors, hardly anyone manages to make an impression. Mouni is frankly reduced to an eye candy. Amyra Dastur as Dr. Vardhi’s divorced receptionist has a more engaging role, in comparison. Sumeet and Gajraj Rao as a motivational speaker are completely wasted. Rawal manages to leave an impression with his cameo. But its only Irani whose act manages to keep this sinking ship afloat.
Having won the National-Award for his debut film, ‘Wrong Side Raju’, director Musale’s latest film suffers heavily in terms of performance. Maybe, a portion of the ‘Magic Soup’ would help, the next time around.