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.