Picture this: It’s modern day Varanasi. Sunny Deol plays a pious Sanskrit teacher, Sakshi Tanwar his motor-mouth wife, and Ravi Kissen, a tour guide specifically for foreigners. Deol still considers Varanasi a holy city and is bitter about the people who flock to the city to smoke ganja, turn the ghats into a ‘picnic spot’ and Ganga into a ‘swimming pool’.
Punctuate this with heaps of gaalis, a comedy of conflicts where foreign tourists have taken a sexual interest in Yoga babas, while Deol’s piousness is trying to stop Varanasi from turning into a Vancouver, and you have Mohalla Assi, a 2012 film directed by Chandra Prakash Dwivedi (also the director of 1991 Tv show Chanakya and 2003’s Pinjar) that is based on the famous hindi novel Kashi Ka Assi written by Dr. Kashinath Singh.
The title of the film comes from the famous Assi Ghat in Varanasi that is a major tourist attraction. The film was shot in 2011, but went through it’s share of financial hurdles and was shelved for a bit.
Now according to this Indian Express report, the film is looking at a late 2015 release.
Mohalla Assi’s trailer begins with loud chants of “Har har Mahadev,” with snippets of foreigners flocking around the tourist-y areas, doing typically tourist-y things. “Welcome to holy city of Benaras,” says Ravi Kissen playfully; he’s also the tour guide of all things popular and notorious in the city.
Deol’s priest avtar is funny enough. Imagine a dhai kilo ka haath sanskrit teacher in a dhoti, well-oiled hair and a handle-bar moustache. Now imagine him doling out curse words by the minute.
In one particular scene, he is sitting by the ghats, when an Indian tourist asks him if he can use mineral water instead of River Ganga’s water for holy processions. “Mineral water chahiye toh kahi aur jao Bh*sd**e, Ganga mein huamara vishwas abhi atal hai,” says Deol. (If you want mineral water go somewhere else, son of a b*tch, we still have faith in Ganga)
The rest of the trailer is a crash course in what happens behind closed doors in Varanasi. There are babas making out with short-haired tourists, and housewives who curse their husbands wandering eye, and make fun of white women who complain about the heat between their legs.
Meanhwhile, for every expression of love and affection, there are 5 more abuses. “Arre har har mahadev ke saath b*sd**e ka naara toh Kashi ka sarvajanik upvadhan hai bhaiyaa,” says an actor in the film. (Along with “har har mahadev” in Kashi it is tradition to attach the word “bh*sd**e)
The shock value is so high in Mohalla Assi, that we’re willing to ignore the stereotypes. There’s a song and dance sequence around the trees with Ravi Kissen and a white tourist. There’s a “Lord Shiva” meant for photographic purposes only, who has a blue face and “holy ganga water” spurting out of his hair-bun. Then there’s Sunny Deol not playing a Punjabi character for once. Now isn’t that fun?
Watch the trailer here for yourself. We dare you not to smile: