Movie Review: Grand Masti (2013)

Grand_MastiZero Stars (out of 4)

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If there is any country in which one would expect filmmakers to steer clear of rape jokes, it would be India. Nevertheless, on the same day that four of the perpetrators of last year’s horrific gang rape and murder were sentenced to death, director-producer Indra Kumar released Grand Masti: a movie that features a joke about gang rape.

The rape joke is the perfect example of Grand Masti‘s tone-deafness and sexism. In attempting to push the boundaries of what Indian audiences are willing to accept in an adult comedy, the tone of Kumar’s film feels like what passed for funny in Hollywood films in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In exchange for squeezing a record number of masturbation jokes into his film, Kumar reduces his female characters to nothing more than sperm receptacles.

(Correction: all of the sperm remains safely contained within ManForce condoms, a brand whose corporate sponsorship purchased a bizarre instance of product placement in the film.)

Grand Masti focuses on three asshole best friends: Amar (Ritesh Deshmukh), Meet (Vivek Oberoi), and Prem (Aftab Shidasani). Six years after graduating from college, the three assholes aren’t having enough sex with their smoking hot wives as they would like, so they travel to their college reunion — who the hell holds a college reunion after just six years? — hoping to have a lot of sex with a lot of co-eds.

Why are the guys so love starved that they’re driven to cheat on their wives? Amar’s wife, Mamta (Sonalee Kulkarni), is busy taking care of their infant son; Meet’s wife, Unatti (Karishma Tanna), is working overtime so that they can afford to buy a house; and Prem’s wife, Tulsi (Manjari Fadnis), is at the beck-and-call of Prem’s demanding parents, who live with the couple. All of the women would like to have sex with their husbands, but their other responsibilities keep getting in the way.

So, again, these three assholes don’t magically swap bodies with some single guys, nor do they find themselves facing temptation against their will. They actively seek out extramarital affairs because their gorgeous, willing wives are overwhelmed with the burdens of earning money and caring for their children and parents. It’s impossible to feel empathy for lead characters as loathsome as these three jerks.

Just as a bonus, the trio attempts to murder the dean of the college to keep their wives from discovering their cheating ways. What sweethearts!

These three tools become even less appealing whenever they are in the presence of any women other than their wives. They ogle and drool like animals, heads bobbing in time with the bounce of a woman’s breasts as she walks by.

This cartoonish horniness is particularly pronounced when the guys are in the presence of white women, of whom there are a lot in Grand Masti. All of the white women in the movie wear skimpier outfits than their ethnic Indian counterparts. They are ogled more freely by the male characters and are more likely to be groped or humped during dance numbers. It reinforces the Indian stereotype that Western women are immoral and willing targets for sexual predators. It’s offensive.

Not willing to limit the stereotyping to white women, Meet warns Prem about an angry East Asian woman: “She might know Kung Fu!”

In addition to being offensive and lacking sympathetic main characters, the immature, tired gags in Grand Masti go on way too long. Bits that are mildly amusing the first time are repeated for minutes at a stretch, blunting their impact. The acting is uniformly lousy.

It’s hard to believe that a movie this out-of-touch could be made in 2013. It just goes to show how far society still has to go before women are seen by all men as humans of equal status, and not just sex objects.

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42 thoughts on “Movie Review: Grand Masti (2013)

    1. Kathy Post author

      You will not have missed out on anything by skipping Grand Masti, gypsysoul. Judging by the cast of the film, one would assume that about 25% of the students at most Indian technical colleges are white women in bikinis. That sounds statistically accurate, right? πŸ˜‰

      Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      The truth is, shrey, that I would really love to see a movie like this succeed, but not at the expense of human dignity. A movie can be edgy and crass without being offensive.

      Reply
  1. Tanay

    yes India is only country where a movie like ”3 idiots” which had lots of sex jokes n one long speech which was full of rape jokes was released as a family film without any cuts or adult certificate bcoz it was backed by big production house…. So this is not the first time.. N i saw girls enjoying such rape jokes.. N why those white girls agree to work in those films where they are portrayed as sex objects…

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      “N why those white girls agree to work in those films where they are portrayed as sex objects…”

      Perhaps they need the money. Maybe their dance company or talent agency threatened to fire them if they didn’t perform. They may mistakenly believe that this will lead to better acting roles in the future.

      Just by asking that question, you’re putting all of the responsibility for morality on the women and none on the male directors who include these dance numbers in the film to please the overwhelmingly young, male audience members who pay to see them. The blame falls at the feet of those generating the demand, not those fulfilling it.

      Further, the issue is not sexy dance numbers themselves but the fact that white women are depicted in them differently from Indian women.

      Reply
  2. Keyur Seta

    Agree with you more than 100%. I was sent for this one. I had the most offensive and disgusting time inside a cinema hall. It’s a film that encourages rape! Ideally, I would like to see the makers and the three actors behind bars for this one!

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      It’s really frustrating, Keyur. I’ll concede that a subplot about the gang of rapists might have been acceptable had it played a prominent role in the plot. Perhaps the three main characters could have been placed in a situation that forced them to choose between keeping their extramarital trysts a secret or catching the gang of rapists, allowing them a chance to show their character growth. Instead, the rape subplot is introduced just for a one-off gag, as though gang rape isn’t really a big deal. It’s despicable.

      Reply
      1. Keyur Seta

        Agree with you. This idea sounds more interesting and would have helped in character growth. Instead, the trio doesn’t have any character in the first place.

        By the way, the film has become a big hit here. It has earned more than Rs 40 crore in the first three days! It’s infuriating!

        By the way, in my show, the entire young crowd (including girls) were cheering every bit (literally) of the film! The same people who protest against rape incidents and rapists are found in theatre appreciating something as filthy as Grand Masti! We are living in a hypocritical society!

        Reply
        1. Kathy Post author

          When films are considered “mindless” entertainment, it diminishes their social significance and potential impacts. I don’t think that every movie needs to be dissected or over-analyzed, but it takes a lot of work for a filmmaker to create a movie that the audience can really lose themselves in. Insisting that movie-goers check their brain at the door fails to give filmmakers the credit they are due while also failing to respect movies as meaningful works of art (however dubious their quality).

          Reply
  3. Andy

    This isn’t the first time that an Indian movie like this has been made and bombed at the Box Office, right? Probably with similar cast?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      At least in the U.S., the notoriety of the cast drives more people to the theater than the content of the film. Ritesh and Vivek just can’t carry a movie overseas. Films with big stars like SRK and Salman do fine without any help, but films without big names — Shuddh Desi Romance and Madras Cafe, for example — almost need a separate promotional strategy in the States, perhaps marketing them to fans of art films.

      Reply
      1. Andy

        Having watched Judd Apatow movies, I understand what you mean when you say that the notoriety of the cast drives more people to the theater. Unfortunately, in this case, the audience is going to be driven away from the theater.

        Reply
  4. Shah Shahid

    This is supposedly the ‘sequel’ to MASTI, but from your Review, it seems like it follows EXACTLY the same plot. The 1st one had similar issues, while being more slapstick than offensive.

    I find movies like this is what causes the world to point fingers at Bollywood when a social crisis of morality occurs. As much as I defend the Industry and medium then, I can hardly do that here. What’s even more reprehensible is that it’s not a B / C Movie. It’s a mainstream Bollywood product with A-listers. It’s enraging and despicable.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      I also read that it was “inspired by” American Reunion, Shahid. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the movie rips off the Naked Gun gag where Frank Drebin holds on to various anatomically correct statues while shimmying along the ledge of a building!

      Like you, I’m always hesitant to lay blame for society’s failings at the feet of the entertainment industry, but I think the industry has for too long claimed in their defense that they just reflect society, they don’t shape it. Why not aspire to something better, or at the very least, use society’s failings as the starting point for character growth? If nothing else, films that take racism and sexism for granted reinforce them as the status quo and reduce the impetus for change.

      I’m of the belief that any topic is fair game for jokes, but if a writer or comedian gets something like a rape joke wrong, they deserve all the scorn they get. You can make the joke, but it had better be really effing funny.

      Obviously, filmmakers have the most responsibility for creating movies that aren’t offensive, but Bollywood actors need to take more responsibility, too. I’m willing to bet that if Ritesh and Vivek said, “We won’t do the movie unless you get rid of the gang rape joke,” the joke would’ve been excised from the script.

      Reply
  5. Nav

    Hi Kathy: reading the review the 1st thought that crossed my mind was that you need to revisit your rating scale. Such films either should be given a “negative rating” or no rating at all!

    Reply
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  7. Nav

    Hi kathy – its been ~ 5 yrs to date since you started this blog. Why don’t you come up with a list (short description) of the 5 best & 5 worst Hindi movies you’ve seen during this time.

    Think people would really like to know….

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Thanks for the suggestion, Nav! I like this idea. I may do something like this during a week when no new Hindi films are opening in the U.S.

      Reply
  8. Nicky

    The only panacea to a garbage film like Grand Masti is a delightful movie like “The Lunchbox”.It is truly a gem of a film.I humbly urge you to watch it ASAP ! πŸ™‚

    Reply
      1. Nicky

        I thought it released simultaneously in America too.Hope it does release quickly.
        Coming back to Grand Masti,it did pretty well at the box office here in India.When filmmakers make these kind of movies & people laugh at these offensive dialogues and put it as harmless then we know that audience as well the cinema is becoming worse.But then i believe eventually these kind of movies based on crude adult humor especially sexist/offensive/racist will not work in the long run as the law of diminishing marginal utility catches up πŸ™‚

        PS:I don’t have a problem with adult humor movies(they are good) its the offensive/sexist stuff that is bothersome,just clarifying πŸ™‚

        Reply
        1. Kathy Post author

          Exactly, Nicky. This type of crude humor is so new to mainstream Indian filmmakers that I think many are still figuring out the difference between funny and offensive. I think the offense is born out of ignorance and inexperience rather than malice. As for the audience, I suspect that the notion of “checking your brain at the door” when you walk into the movie theater in India will fade as a larger share of the populace has access to a wider array of films. The most memorable comedies are often thoughtful and heart-warming, and not just two hours of people running around and screaming in funny voices. πŸ™‚

          Reply
  9. Nav

    Hi Kathy

    I have you seen andaz apna apna & jaane bhi do yaron? It’d be great if you can post a review of these cult comedies..

    Reply
  10. Nicky

    Agree,you pretty much nailed it especially the ignorance part which is indeed true.I wish you write for a mainstream Indian English Newspaper/Magazine or even a electronic media channel(published in their website) as your write up is very refreshing and when required thought provoking.

    There are many reputed media houses in my country,I hope someone sees your work and gives you a contract πŸ™‚

    Reply
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  14. Abhishek

    Fuck this movie. . .Worst movie ever seen if there would be negative rating then i would have given -10000000000 as more i can put. This movie encourage sex, rape.

    Reply
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