Threatened by protests and petitions by the Sikh community, Santa Banta Pvt Ltd comes with a huge disclaimer that its turbaned characters are fictitious and bear no resemblance to anyone real. That seems entirely superflous. It’s hard to imagine anybody in real life as dim-witted as Santa (Boman Irani) and Banta (Vir Das). These posters boys for ineptitude are sent to Fiji by corrupt intelligence agent Arvind (Vijay Raaz) to rescue a kidnapped Indian ambassador (Ayub Khan). Arvind hopes that these rustic photocopies of the earnest numbskulls from Dumb and Dumber and Bean will spectacularly fail, thereby protecting the kidnapper (Ram Kapoor) and his fee, but our mismatched pair gets the upper hand each time.
Why Fiji? Somebody on the production department either got a good deal from the Fijians or badly wanted a vacation in the South Pacific nation, or both.
Director Akashdeep expends great effort to ensure a chortle-free comedy over 122 minutes, and he succeeds spectacularly. Irani, who almost always manages to sound the same regardless of the particulars of his movie characters, is as unwatchable as Das, who spends the entire film trying to master a Punjabi accent. The actors have to deal with sloppy writing and mind-altering contrivances, and that paid vacation in Fiji further inhibits their need to earn the respect of the average audience member.
When Irani’s Santa eyes the ambassador’s curvaceous wife Kareena (Neha Dhupia) and Banta pants after the svelte Indian spy code-named “Cutie” (Lisa Haydon), our hearts go out to these women. And when characters spout such lines as “I don’t have the time to listen to this nonsense!”, it is time to take the hint and search for the red lights that lead to the exits.