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Everybody Says I'm Fine


Everybody Says I'm Fine


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The certifiable Bollywood movie Everybody Says I'm Fine opens with a flashback in a recording studio, where a young boy watches helplessly as his parents die from a freakish electrical short in the soundboard. It's a peculiar way to start a movie—not just for the manner of death, but for the sneaking suspicion that writer-director Rahul Bose was looking for some excuse to kick things off with a catchy musical number. Yet that's merely a prelude to the madness to come. Careening from bubbly romantic comedy to bitchy melodrama to the darker matters of murder, incest, and suicide, the film possesses the catch-all qualities for which Bollywood cinema is known, but Bose exerts about as much control over them as the conductor of a runaway train. Geared for crossover appeal to Indian ex-pats and other English-speakers abroad, Everybody Says I'm Fine takes place mainly in a corner salon in an upscale Bombay neighborhood. The set was created entirely on a soundstage, which adds an appealing veneer of candy-colored artificiality that Bose inevitably punctures with a grim reality check. Working off a well-worn clairvoyance gimmick, the film stars Rehaan Engineer as a hairdresser whose childhood trauma has given him the ability to read people's minds, but only while he cuts their hair. With his scissors acting as a transistor—cue a rumbling on the soundtrack and cutaways to Gus Van Sant-style stop-motion cloudscapes—Engineer hears his client's innermost secrets, which just happen to be on the top of their mind. He does his best to help them with their problems, whether it means playing matchmaker for shy college kids, protecting fallen socialite Pooja Bhatt, or covering up for an aspiring actor (Bose, in a grating turn) who feigns professional success. But Engineer meets his match in Koel Purie, a straight-talking beauty whose effervescent charm hides secrets that not even he can access. Everybody Says I'm Fine makes little use of its hero's special powers. The only words he ever hears serve some function in the plot, and most of those insights could be gleaned by an average private eye or even just a reasonably perceptive person. In this way, he's less like Christopher Walken's character in The Dead Zone than Walken's Saturday Night Live parody, in which he foretold the mundane future. Another clue that Bose doesn't have a handle on the wavering tone comes from his own frantic character, who asks Engineer to shave a swastika on his scalp for his upcoming film role as a neo-Nazi starring opposite Ricky Martin. The request becomes all the stranger when it's revealed that Bose is lying about the part, which means he got the raised red swastika-cut for no reason. And, if that's not harrowing enough, Everybody Says I'm Fine has plenty more questionable scenes where that came from.