Anything goes and some things stick in Pannaga Bharana’s Kannada-language French Biriyani. The Bengaluru-set film, which is out on Amazon Prime Video, revolves around an identity mix-up and a misplaced bag. The cast is led by Danish Sait, the popular comedian who has emerged as one of the foremost chroniclers of the absurdities of the novel coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Dreaded don Powder Charles dies seconds after instructing his heir apparent Mani (Mahantesh Hiremath) to send his henchman Suleiman to the airport to pick up an important consignment from Solomon. Instead, Suleiman latches on to Simon (Sal Yusuf), a French pharmaceutical company employee who has landed in Bengaluru on an assignment.
In the first of a series of never-ending mishaps, Simon ends up in Asgar’s auto. A Deccani Urdu-spouting Shivajinagar roadster, Asgar (Danish Sait) initially regards Simon as a headache but soon grows sympathetic to the Frenchman’s plight.
The cross-weave of chaos, which unfolds over a couple of days, binds Simon, Asgar, Mani and his cohorts, an incompetent police inspector, a silken-haired undertaker, a scoop-hungry television reporter, and Asgar’s sister Rahila and her husband Purushottam (Nagabhushan).
High on energy but low on sperm count, Purushottam’s side plot with Rahila (Sindhu Murthy) about conceiving a child produces some of the movie’s best moments of observational comedy. Mani and his posse – hoodlums with hair that has never seen the inside of a parlour and swagger inspired by too much time spent with DVDs of Mafia movies – are caricatures of caricatures. Hindi film actor Pitobash finds a space in this mix as the lackey whose incompetence kicks off the comedy of errors.
Bharana’s screenplay aims equally to be a comedy of manners. French Biriyani has insider humour about Bengaluru’s unpredictable ways as well as a tribute to the diversity of people and accents found in the megapolis. Bharana spreads himself thin in his attempt to mine laughs from every street corner. From hungry cows to erectile dysfunction, no idea is left unexplored. The result is as overstretched and contrived as movies of this type tend to be. In order to have been more effective, this comedy needed a single substantial serving, not a buffet.