November 27th sees the release of master director Priyadarshan’s latest film, De Dana Dan, starring Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty, Katrina Kaif, and Paresh Rawal, and featuring music by Pritam. So I thought it would be a perfect moment to look back on the previous four Priyadarshan-directed films that have had Akshay Kumar as the star:
Hera Pheri (2000) Directed by Priyadarshan. Starring Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty, Paresh Rawal, Tabu. Music by Anu Malik and Bally Sagoo.
Shyam (Sunil Shetty) comes to Mumbai in search of a job in the bank his late father used to work in. By chance, he runs into Raju (Akshay Kumar), a good-for-nothing dreamer who can’t hang on to a job. When Shyam finds his wallet missing, he assumes Raju to be the pick-pocket, and chases after him.
Shyam, in search of a place to stay, is taken in by the near-sighted, kind-hearted owner of the Star Garage, Baburao Apte (Paresh Rawal in a terrific performance). Shyam discovers that there’s another tenant — none other than Raju. Much squabbling (both verbal and physical) ensues as Shyam and Raju are constantly on each other’s nerves, and the beleaguered Babu Rao is often caught in the middle of it all.
A wrong number from Kabira (Gulshan Grover), a gangster who has kidnapped the granddaughter of Devi Prasad (and this is perfectly set up in the introduction to Paresh Rawal’s character, who constantly answers the garage phone only to find people searching for Devi Prasad), sets a comedy of errors in motion. Shyam, Raju and Baba Rao decide to try to turn the situation to their advantage in order to make some much needed cash.
Along the way, we also meet Anuradha (Tabu), a young woman who wants the very job at the bank that Shyam wants, and Kharak Singh (Om Puri), who has lent Shyam money that he desperately needs back in order to marry off his sister. Add to that several rather lame picturisations – the film, released in 2000, was suffering from a bit of a hangover from the 90s in terms of costumes, music, and choreography, and several chases to round out this comedy. Though the story tends to rely more on melodrama than monkey business, it hangs together and leads to one very madcap fight scene and an unpredictable twist at the end.
Garam Masala (2005) Directed by Priyadarshan. Starring Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav, Rimi Sen, Neha Dupia, Neetu Chandra, Nargis Bagheri, DaisyBopanna. Music by Pritam.
Garam Masala is the story of Mac (Akshay Kumar) and Sam (John Abraham), two rival photographers at the magazine Garam Masala, who spend most of their time squabbling, when they aren’t actually engaged in fisticuffs. When their less than stellar photographs infuriate their boss, he gives them an ultimatum — enter an International Photography contest — and win it. Sam cheats, stealing his photos from a talented photographer, and he does win. He’s given a money prize and a trip to the US as his reward.
To get back at him, Mac becomes the caretaker of a fancy apartment, which he pretends is his own. He then begins to woo three air hostesses, leading each to believe that she is his fianc