There is much to be loved in this original and bracing tale of a petty Gujarati entrepreneur who hits the big-time selling an aphrodisiac, apparently made in China. Rajkummar Rao has never been more credible, not even in his most brilliant performances. His Raghuvir Mehta is a bit of a simpleton with a heart of gold and the mind of a Gujju businessman gone wrong—or so it seems from his hilarious litany of failures about which his jerk of a cousin (Sumeet Vyas, brilliant) never ceases to taunt and ridicule him.
Rao is an exceptional actor in the worst of times. Made In China gives him a script and character to chew and build on. And boy, Rao has a ball! He is in full charge of his vulnerable yet manipulative character’s jumpy destiny from failed ridiculed petty wheeler-dealer to a nationally known controversial aphrodisiac entrepreneur whose ‘Magic Soup’ apparently kills a Chinese dignitary visiting Ahmedabad.
Just think. Aphrodisiac from China kills Chinese dignitary in India, As one investigating officer comments colourfully, “Irony ki toh maa-bahen lag gayi.” Exactly.
This irreverent warm-hearted film never lets us down even as the narrative format is complicated, unnecessarily some would say. But then who’s to decide which way the narrative wind blows so long as it works? Director Mikhil Musale is fully in-control of his protagnist’s seemingly unpredictable destiny. The film is fluently shot and sharply edited thereby giving the tangled plot situations ample breathing space to work itself out.
Rajkummar Rao pinpoints enticingly with several incredibly talented co-stars. I specially liked the rapport he builds with sexologist Boman Irani, distinguished entrepreneur Paresh Rawal and iconic business philosopher Gajraj Rao. Each of the three characters are brought to life by actors who need no prompting to rise and shine. The writing does the rest.
Musale is a terrific storyteller. He cuts into Raj’s Raghuvir’s hurling stumbling groaning ambitions without interrupting them rudely. As an interpreter of snarled aspirations, the narrative works with caution and compassion always leaving room for Raghuvir’s entrepreneurial naivete to cut some slack.
Another highlight of this sharper-than-you-think dream-selling film about the enterprising spirit is the protagonist’s relationship with his sexy wife (Mouni Roy). Not only do they smoke and giggle secretly together in the bathroom away from their son’s prying eyes, Raghuvir even asks his if she is satisfied with their sex life. Not just that, she even threads his eyebrows for him. Now, which screen couple have we seen do all of this? And then, some more.
For that matter, when was the last time we say a film about cataclysmic ambitions which was so indulgent towards its protagonist’s whimsical choices in life? Made In China is in many ways, the kind of comedy never seen before. It lets its reluctant hero fly with his dreams and yet manages to keep a cautious control over the turbulent flight.
As a high flier with a loser’s luck Rajkummar Rao is a winner all the way. There are many reasons to see Made In China. Rao is one of them. Oh yes, another reason: China is shot like a character in the plot and not a tourist attraction. Cinematographer Anuj Rakesh Dhawan gets the point. When you follow your heart you seldom go wrong.