Ashwini Dhir’s second directorial venture, Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge is touted as a laugh riot and worthy successor to Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s family oriented comedies. It turns out to be neither of those. However it is a languid comedy well suited to family audiences and fairly engaging for the most part. Puneet (Devgan) and Munmun (Konkona Sen Sharma) live in Mumbai in a flat and have one kid. The Hindi teacher at school admonishes the parents for not having imparted any “sanskriti” to their child as the kid does not understand the meaning of Atithi Devo Bhava! And an atithi finally does show up at their door – it is Chachaji from Gorakhpur!
He draws a convoluted connection to Puneet and settles into their home. The comedy consists of his taking everything for granted, his following the maid around as she cleans to make sure not a speck is left behind, his frequent loud relieving of flatulence, stringing his washed clothes everywhere. The jokes are repeated until they begin to fall somewhat flat, and this includes the Sholay dialog “Kitne Admi thay?”, which ends in Puneet losing a lucrative scriptwriting assignment. There is a hilarious take on Bedi Jalayle, which gets turned into a rocking bhajan to Durga maa! The humor is not slapstick enough, and falls far short of subtle or satirical.
Paresh Rawal shines as Chachaji even though this is not a unique role but one he plays in almost every film, making it predictable to the core. Sanjay Mishra is funny as the watchman. Ajay Devgan is competent, he seems to have mastered the art of comedy that consist of him playing a hapless man caught in the middle (something he did in All The Best too). Konkona is decent as the harried wife who often lapses into Bangla as the atithi drives her mental. The setting is most real, and the film does a good job of presenting a middle class family caught in a situation that will resonate with many viewers. The ending begins to approach a high note and then abruptly turns into a strange case of mistaken identity. I really wish it had ended 8 minutes before it does.
This is not the pinnacle of comedy by any means, but it is a competent effort and will elicit some laughs.