Priyadarshan's an odd creature. His mindless cash-grab comedies, his shameless Southie remakes, his slightly more shameful Hollywood ripoffs, and the fact he once flat out admitted he doesn't make Hindi films for the art, but for the money, none of these things support my faith in him as a director. Sloppy is the first thing that comes to mind; passionless, perhaps.
Yet, when I watched Billu, I thought that maybe, just maybe, he was finally putting forth an effort towards a result that he cared about.
Of course, the story of a humble barber (Irffan Khan) and a superstar (Shahrukh Khan), has been told in other Indian languages before this version. I haven't seen any of the others, so I can't judge, but as with these stories that have trickled down (or up, I should say) from the Southie industries to the north, I always have this feeling in the back of my head the originals probably were better or simply more earnest.
Not that I didn't like it; as many others have said before me, Irffan wins you over as Billu and carries the movie with his warm exterior, ordinary problems and funny oneliners. Lara Dutta is fun, though pretty unfit for the unglamorous role of Bindiya, Billu's wife. The usual Priyadarshan comedy all-star team has their bits, some of them unnecessary and too long in scenes, and some of them genuinely funny.
To up the box office appeal, I suppose, Shahrukh has about twenty million item numbers (okay, there were three but still felt like one too many!) and not much else to do, and so he does what he does, projecting himself into the all-too-fitting role. The outcome works, and why wouldn't it?
I may sound completely unenthusiastic but the fact of the matter is, this movie is just fine. In fact, it's probably one of the best I've seen by this director. Still, if I was to ever use the label "timepass" (which I am still happily boycotting), this movie would one I'd use it with.