Kunal Kemmu, who has been in films since he was a child actor, takes the risk of writing and directing his own film spilling over with “entertainment” in block letters. ‘Madgaon Express’ is metaphorical as well as real because it shows an actual train running from Mumbai to Goa. It also symbolises the realisation of a long-cherished dream of three classmates since school of going to Goa on a holiday to watch “bikini babes” and all that Goa promises.

The story begins with a fairly long prologue essaying the dreams of these three boys of holidaying in Goa which is never realised as parents do not allow them, or other blocks come in. These three are Dhanush, aka Dodo (Divyendu), Pratik ‘Pinku’ Garodia (Pratik Gandhi), and Ayush Gupta (Avinash Tiwari).

Dodo is the leader who finds the rest through social media and reminds them of their boyhood dream. Pinku lives in Cape Town, Ayush is settled in New York, and Dodo is left behind in Mumbai to cope with a very angry father and a loss of one job after another.

Dodo whiles away his time in daydreaming of tripping it to Goa with his two friends or playing cricket with the gully boys half his age. We see him as a pizza delivery boy but later, he loses his job.

The trip to Goa on the ‘Madgaon Express’ is shocking for Dodo’s two friends as they have been booked in the non-AC second class minus. While Pinku is a hypochondriac whose bag is filled with medicines, tonics and hand washes of every kind, Ayush is the more serious one among the three and has some semblance of order to his life. But both are NRIs and are shocked that they must travel in a second class train all the way from Mumbai to Goa.

The entire approach to the film in its writing, its direction and the fleshing out of every single character is based on fun, fun and more fun even with crime involved even before the three reach Goa. Goa becomes a terrible misadventure when Pinku discovers that he has carried someone else’s bag by mistake filled with currency notes, a gun and more.

The other man discovers that the bag he now has is filled with medicines and pills and so on, he panics as his employers – two drug mafia lords who run the business in Goa – will be after his blood. He begins his own search for his bag leading to more runs and chases by the trio to escape from the claws of the drug mafia.

Dancer-choreographer Remo pitches in as a secret agent of the police pretending to be a doctor. He is given funny gear which includes a long plait of his hair hanging around him.

Dodo, who is a complete failure in his professional life, gets into a sleazy hotel, hides some of the cash and the gun but glibly lies to his friends that he has thrown the bag with the booty off the train.

The three friends are mapped out with their funny individual traits but the funniest of them all is the hypochondriac Pinku whose accidental rub of cocaine all over his face suddenly makes him a brave Superman who can fight the drug mafia lords and ladies. single-handed.

Dodo, the glib liar, is confident of his ability to fib his way through every scrape while Ayush is the serious and the most decent young man among the three. They get into fights and quarrels quite often but their childhood love keeps them bonded all the way.

This is a moral lesson for today’s youth for whom friendship and childhood memories have faded away with the smartphone, computer and gaming programmes which are poor substitutes for friendship.

The sole addition of glamour and chutzpah comes in the beautiful shape of the sizzling hot Norah Fatehi who, despite the emphasis on her physically attractive attributes, gives a performance suited to her role, not just filled with empty glamour.

The two groups of the drug mafia, one, headed by the living cartoon Upendra Limaye as the don, Mendonza (who is funnily called Mangola, Mandakini, Mandolin, etc.) and the other, headed by his estranged wife, Kanchan Kombdi (Chhaya Kadam) who has an all-woman gang of fish vending women operating from a fish market, offer a laugh riot unto themselves and give the audience a true run for their money.

Strangely, though Mendonza and Kanchan Komdi are separated, the husband becomes coy and shy like a honeymooning husband, the minute he sees his terrorist-like wife. But Komdi does not bat an eye.Chhaya Kadam proves once again what a versatile actor she is. Kanchan Komdi is a far cry from the character she portrayed in the Kiran Rao film Laapata Ladies.

The one-liners are pithy, funny and intelligent. When one friend warns about some dangers ahead, Dodo asks him “are you telling us, or scaring us?” and such one-liners are filled in the film’s tight writing by Khemu. Khemu too appears in an itsy bitsy scene in which he thinks he is in Pondicherry while he is in Goa!

The fight and chase scenes inside the fish market are too gory and bloody for our taste and though they try to draw humour, the scenes seem to go on and on and on.

The songs fit into the light and funny mood of the film but are nothing to take home with you. The twist in the tale of Dodo’s fibbing persona is brought across touchingly, adding a hint of emotional richness to the film.

He confesses that he had created an alternate identity through his social media page to remember his friends who are hardly in touch with him. The editing is slick, despite the cuts and jerks demanded and the scenes inside the running ‘Madgaon Express’ are a scream.

The costumes are another outlet for laughter and we are surprised to find the all-woman Komdi gang draped in nine yard saris in the Maharashtrian dhoti style sporting glares all the time. Even the Goa police are scared stiff of them.

Costumes for the three friends are not very important as their misadventures need to go through underpants, swag tees, jeans and the works all of which are justified by the “Goa Holiday” ambience. In one scene, they are also forced to dress in drag to pretend to be the Komdi gang which, like most of their acts, fails. Mendonza is forever in a red shirt and is always found eating and drinking. He throws up a marvelous performance.

The last time I laughed so much through a film was the Kumar brothers’ laugh riot, ‘Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi’ in 1958 which remains an ageless wonder. One wishes ‘Madgaon Express’ goes the same way.

The only problem is that the film is just too, too long. It just goes on and on and on even after the three friends have gone home and back to their lives. And this becomes an issue for the discerning audience.