When film composer Himesh Reshammiya wrote the screenplay for The Xpose (also written as The Xposé, but pronounced without the accent), did he realize the character he created for himself to play was such a jerk?
If not, it points to a serious difference in the way Reshammiya interprets characters versus the way the audience does. This is important, given the moral assumptions present in The Xpose. If Reshammiya didn’t realize he was writing a loathsome protagonist, he probably also didn’t realize how condescending and paternalistic The Xpose is.
The framework for Reshammiya’s lecture on morality is a Bollywood murder mystery set in 1968 (“Inspired by real incidents,” according to onscreen text at the start of the film). The movie opens with an actress named Zara (Sonali Raut) falling to her death at an award show after-party. Her final swan dive is replayed a number of times throughout the narrative, complete with “splat” sound effects.
For twenty minutes, Irrfan Khan — whose character is totally unnecessary — introduces the audience to the main suspects in Zara’s death: sleazy film composer KD (rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh); his wife, Shabnam; rival actress Chandni (Zoya Afroz); Chandni’s boyfriend, actor Virman; Chandni’s director, Bobby Chadda; Zara’s director, Subba Prasad (Anant Mahadevan, who also directed The Xpose); and ex-cop-turned-superstar-actor, Ravi (Reshammiya).
Ravi is smug and annoying. His diva behavior on a movie set includes refusing makeup — “God took care of that” — and making up his own lines: “Whatever I say becomes the script.” Instead of shaking hands with his co-star, Virman, Ravi pats him on the cheek like a child.
Ravi’s condescension extends into his romantic life as well. He falls in love with Chandni while rescuing her from a fire (the point of the rescue attempt actually being to prove his manly superiority to Virman). Ravi shows his interest by chastising Chandni for smoking cigarettes and kissing her on the forehead. If he wants to be her boyfriend, why does he act like he’s her dad?
He’s downright nasty to Zara, calling her a whore and sneering at her clothes. After she dies, Ravi tells Chandni that Zara had it coming.
Normally, it’s unfair to equate an actor’s offscreen self with the part he or she is playing. But Himesh Reshammiya wrote the part of Ravi for himself, and his father, Vipin, produced The Xpose. Since Ravi is supposed to be cool — and not the douchebag he actually is — one can’t help but wonder if the character is a window into Reshammiya’s own ego and views on gender.
Reshammiya’s blindness regarding his protagonist results in an unintentionally hilarious climax in which Ravi takes control of a courtroom, against every rule of law. The judge pardons one suspect and convicts another on the spot, almost entirely on Ravi’s word. It’s so stupid that it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
Put aside the fact that the courtroom sequence isn’t remotely realistic. No one wants to turn over complete moral and legal authority to a man who — in response to Bobby Chadda’s statement that he doesn’t fear bloodshed — issues this threat: “The blood in your body won’t match what I pee once in a day.”
The quality of the acting in The Xpose is on par with the quality of the writing. Reshammiya is bland. The two female leads are dull, only showing sparks when asked to catfight in strapless dresses that threaten to fall off at any moment (they don’t).
Yo Yo Honey Singh is such a terrible actor that it almost seems deliberate. Maybe he’s doing some kind of anti-acting performance art, providing commentary on the ridiculousness of the script. More likely, he’s just a lousy actor.
Despite having two professional musicians in the crew, the music in The Xpose is horrible. Another instance of unintentional comedy is a romantic number between a man and a woman — and yet the visuals consist almost exclusively of shots of Reshammiya by himself. That scene says it all.