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Bollywood didn’t begin 2020 with a bang, but a whimper as it rolled out a painfully unremarkable, joyless comedy ‘Sab Kushal Mangal’, starring Akshaye Khanna with a terrible toupee and two forgettable new faces Priyank Sharma and Riva Kishan.

The title, which means all’s well, had little going for it and didn’t live up to its name.

The tale of a small-town thug and politician Baba Bhandari (Khanna) trying to win over a young woman Mandira, played by Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan’s daughter Riva, is wince-worthy.

While it’s heartening to see Khanna take creative risks and going out of his comfort zone, it doesn’t always translate into engaging cinema. His ill-advised toupee and his handlebar moustache aren’t the worst elements in this disastrous film. His uncouth, unpolished character — which is supposed to endear and make you grin — comes across as an entitled wimp. His performance is as limp as his wig.

Priyank Sharma, who is the son of actress Padmini Kolhapure, plays a television anchor Pappu Sharma who unwittingly rubs Bhandari the wrong way and gets abducted by the local thugs as retribution. Bhandari thinks kidnapping and marrying off Pappu against his will will teach the young man a lesson about not messing with him.

But Bhandari ends up falling in love with the bride-to-be and a messy comedy of errors ensue because Pappu manages to fall in love with his reluctant bride. The funny bit? There’s not much going for Mandira, who is grating as this small-town girl with no agency of her own. Why are two unsuitable men hankering after an unremarkable character is a mystery that remains unsolved. While Bollywood’s penchant for small-town satires remains undiminished, ‘Sab Kushal Mangal’ holds very little charm in its rusty, rather than rustic characters.

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The jokes are tedious and hamming it up for the camera is condoned endlessly in ‘Sab Kushal Mangal’. While Khanna tries to breathe life into this insipid feature, the two new faces who are a portrait of mediocrity don’t share his burden. They are earnest, but instill no faith in us. The young kids are supposed to play forbidden lovers, but there’s absolutely no chemistry between the two. The romantic scenes among this young, carefree couple is painful to witness.

The storyline is predictable, cliched and the humour feels forced. Apart from a few jokes of Khanna that landed, it is slim picking in terms of witty repartee. The only silver lining were the parts which featured Khanna. But this is a prime example of how a single talent cannot rescue a doomed love triangle.

Actors Sathish Kaushik and Supriya Pathak are wasted in their roles as the hapless parents of Pappu Sharma. While director Karan Vishwanath Kashyap tries to bring alive the syntax and grammar of small Indian towns, it fills you with that familiar been-there-seen-that feeling. There’s no novelty here and in this tiring love triangle, you aren’t rooting for any couple. All you pray is that you survive this bumpy train wreck of a film. The joke seems to be on us viewers.

Film: Sab Kushal Mangal

Director: Karan Vishwanath Kashyap

Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Priyank Sharma and Riva Kishan

Stars: 1.5 out of 5