In stand-up comedy the predominant mode of execution is Set up, Punchline. French Biriyani is a long joke. A story with multiple set ups and punchlines. What works for the movie is throughout the movie either the set up or the punchline lands and keeps you entertained all through its run time.
Asgar is the second character from Danish’s RJ days to have come alive on silver screen (or its Covid equivalent). The first being Humble Politican Nograj. It would be interesting to see this play out into a Danish Cinematic Universe inhabited by Nograj, Asgar, Bevarsi Kudka, Ramamurthy avare and the entire lot created in his Supari and recent lockdown days. Think of it like an extended version of Family guy with Seth MacFarlane voicing more than just 3 characters. With Danish’s comedic talent that would be franchise to root for.
In French Biriyani, what works best is the collection of eclectic characters thrown into this comedy of errors. The long haired(?) Godfatheresque don who elicits laughter even during his funeral (reminds one of the corpse moved around in hilarious situations in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron) and his
hair heir apparent, the Liam Neeson wannabe chhota Don. Watch out for the scene where he discovers his father’s hidden “treasure” and the subsequent reaction. Simon, the foreigner who puts the French in French biriyani.
Confused for Samaan (meaning package or more literally a man’s package, if you are from Bangalore) and having lost his package (no pun intended) he goes on a wild goose chase with mad cap characters like Asgar and his drunk companion. Along the way meeting a ‘rascist’ inspector, the cacophony of Shivajinagar, holy cows and unholy dons. All for a ‘samaan’ he does not have. As a he puts it rightly ‘crazy time, crazy place, crazy people’. For a movie that could not release in theatres due to the ongoing pandemic, the climax is oddly set in a theatre called …Climax. This part works in an ironically funny way.
A comedian sometimes indulges in non-sequiturs during a joke. If well prepared, these elevate the joke, even though deviating from the story. The marital discord of Asgar’s sister is enacted in a similar format but unfortunately does not
cum come out as expected. The non sequitur that works well is that of Chikkanna as a stoned magician. The movie steps into psychedelic territory for the brief time he is present, and it pays off well.
Special mention to Puneeth Rajkumar and PRK films for believing in off beat content and putting their money behind it. French Biriyani is a worthy addition to their list that had Kavaaludaari and Mayabazaar.
French Biriyani gets the timing and delivery right but struggles a bit with pacing. This is where better writing would have helped. Overall though it is like a watching a good stand up show over the weekend. Worth the economy pricing. If you are looking for Carlin or CK, look them up elsewhere (read YouTube). The final punchline did not land as expected but funny anecdotes, quirky acting by the main characters, old world charm of Bangalore are sprinkled throughout like the different flavours on a biriyani to keep you hooked.