Golf is equated with gully cricket and humour is scooped off the Mumbai streets in Sohail Khan’s new comedy. He can’t even pronounce the name of the sport properly – he calls it “gulf” – but Ali (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) appears to have been born for the putting green. Ali is a former underwear salesman and racketeer with one of Mumbai’s most ineffectual gangs – its boss is called Danger Bhai and is played by the very tall Nikitin Dheer, who is the constant butt of jokes by his henchmen. When he loses a network connection on his cellphone, he is advised to stand up in order to catch a signal.
Ali realises his potential when he picks up the club and swings it as confidently as Virat Kohli at the crease. Ali is hooked, and under the tutelage of neighbourhood caddie Kishanlal (Asif Basra), he blossoms into a prized golfer and the main rival of the arrogant former royal Vikram (Jas Arora). Do you think this is so easy, Vikram thunders. It is, Vikram, it really is.
Sohail Khan's unabashedly populist slumdog millionaire fairy tale is woven with many stock characters and Bambaiya street insults – a short man is called “ground floor”, “style” gets rhymed with “piles” (The dialogue is by Raaj Shaandilyaa). Seema Biswas plays Ali’s noble adoptive mother, Jackie Shroff is the shambolic underworld don, Arbaaz Khan is the friend-turned-foe-turned-friend, and Amy Jackson is the dim-witted woman in a short skirt who loses her heart to Ali.
Some of the one-liners land with the same force as Ali’s shots, but the cocktail of wacky humour, sentimental blather and tributes to God, Mom and the Neighbourhood has just too many elements to digest. Nawazuddin Siddiqui lives it up as the hero, churning out punchlines and playing the romantic lead in a creaky fantasy about bridging the gulf between the working class and a rich person’s game.