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Cirkus - Tragedy of Terrors

If you took the collective IQ of a goldfish, a rock, a dumbbell, and the most recent ex-President of the US whose name rhymes with rump, it would still far exceed the intellect possessed by Cirkus, the latest release from Rohit Shetty Productions. Based on, and I use the term at its most generous and kind interpretation, Shakespeare's play The Comedy of Errors, this is by far the worst I have seen from Rohit Shetty. The Bard must be spinning in his grave faster than a top on steroids.


I am a fan of Shetty's cop universe - Singham (2011), Simmba (2018), Sooryavanshi (2021) - and of the madcap Golmaal (2006) and the franchise it spawned. They are over the top, wear their emotions on their sleeve, but they are made with a certain conviction and belief and go all in with no half measures. You get swept up in them and their popcorn sensibility, and there is an easy charm to them. In Cirkus, the strain shows and it comes apart at the seams from the get-go.


Starting in the 1940s at a university in Bangalore, a scientist (again I use the term loosely) Dr Roy Jamnadas (Murli Sharma) decides to separate 2 pairs of identical twins at an orphanage, pairing one of each with one of the other pair, and separating them geographically, one mixed pair in Bangalore and the other in Ooty. He wants to test his theory of nature vs nurture, while ethics and morals be damned. For some strange reason, Shetty then has him break the fourth wall and continuously talk to us in the audience in the most demeaning to our intelligence expository style. Both sets of parents decide by sheer coincidence, or maybe with a clairvoyant sense of masochism to unleash mayhem two decades hence, to name their kids Roy (Ranveer Singh) and Joy (Varun Sharma). What follows should broadly be known to you if you have seen Do Dooni Chaar (1968) starring Kishore Kumar and Asit Sen, or Gulzar's fantastic Angoor (1982) starring Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma. My soul hurts at even mentioning those 2 classics in the same sentence as Cirkus. God had mercy on all 4 souls that they aren't around to see this calamity tarnish their legacy.


There is a huge ensemble of the usual staple of reliable comedic actors from the Shetty stable - Johnny Lever, Sanjay Mishra, Mukesh Tiwari, Siddharth Jadhav, Vrajesh Hirjee, Sulabha Arya and Ashwini Kalsekar, but they are let down by execrable lines and shoddy slapstick, except for a couple of moments. The WAGs (wife and girlfriend) quota of each Roy are Mala and Bindu, respectively played by Pooja Hegde and Jacqueline Fernandes, with both having little to do except sing songs. Deepika Padukone appearing only for the song, Current Laga Re, shows more expression and dancing and acting chops, than the two of them combined. The sets have a purposefully cartoonish, bubble gum Day-Glo color palette and that garishness also grates on your nerves.


The usual mixed up identity formula from the original was somehow not enough for Shetty. There is an added element of one Roy being impervious to electric shock while the other suffers convulsions simultaneously. Shetty is so in love with this "comedic" device that we are subjected to it several times during the movie. I would have gladly accepted my theater seat to have been replaced by the electric chair to escape this Cirkus of clowns.


December 23, 2022



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