2 Stars (out of 4)
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The message of Short Kut: The Con is On is that there’s no short cut to success. The message seems ironic, coming from a clone of the Malayalam film Udayananu Tharam, which itself was a remake of Bowfinger, an American movie that also featured Short Kut’s tagline: “The Con is On.” But Short Kut makes its point in amusing enough fashion, even if the villain does get more screentime than the hero.
The film begins with the hero, Shekhar (Akshaye Khanna), deciding to finally write and direct his own Bollywood film, after working twelve years as an assistant director. He’s adamant that he succeed on his own merit, so he keeps his relationship with superstar actress Mansi (Amrita Rao) a secret.
While Shekhar finishes his script, his former pal, Raju (Arshad Warsi), shows up to crash in Shekhar’s apartment. Raju is convinced he’s a superstar actor just waiting to be discovered, though everyone else knows he’s a talentless leech.
Raju steals Shekhar’s script and gives it to a producer who declares it so good that it would be a hit even if a total idiot played the lead. To prove his point, the producer gives the role to Raju. The film is a hit.
The rest of the story deals with the damage Raju’s theft does to Shekhar’s ego and his relationship with Mansi. However, the lovebirds don’t get as much screentime as Raju, whom fame has turned into an insufferable megalomaniac.
It’s easy to write scenes for Raju; the audience knows he’s a buffoon, and it’s fun to see him get his comeuppance. But there are a few scenes where Raju is cruel for cruelty’s sake, and it’s uncomfortable to watch. Worse, it distracts from the genuine struggle Shekhar is going through.
Short Kut drags in its second half, but it’s a watchable movie, overall. There are some nice scenes between Shekhar and his junior-artist friend, Anwar, as well as between Shekhar and Mansi. Unfortunately, the English subtitles disappear during a pivotal speech by Mansi, but the rest of the movie’s translation is pretty good.