Happy New Year

Director: Farah Khan
Year:  2014
Rating: 6.0

Bollywood can come up with some nutty ideas but this one beats the cake in terms of pure idiocy and silliness. It is as messy and chaotic as a 12 year old boy's bedroom left alone for a week living on coke and M&Ms. Who wrote and directed this bit of absurdity? Oh. Farah Khan. She was behind Main Hoon Na in 2004, one of my favorite Bollywood films that hits every pleasure node known to man. But trying to combine Ocean 11 and Step Up with a touch of Cinderella, kung fu and revenge all mashed together like a grotesque hybrid living creature was maybe too much. Especially three hours of it. So why did I enjoy this as much as I did? I have no idea. It is so bad on one level and yet genius on another. It is as if the director just said how silly can we make this without the audience leaving in droves - test their limits - by hour one they will be going this is really stupid, by hour two they will be going really stupid but funny and by hour three they will be thinking that was really stupid but I really liked it and I don't know why. The magic of cinema.

At the time it was one of the highest budgeted Bollywood films ever - $18 million, the budget for some single American TV shows these days - and it was a big hit even with generally lousy reviews. On the screen it looks like a $100 million budget easily - big crowd scenes, ornate décor and big production dance numbers and mainly shot in Dubai which gives every film a bit of glitz. Starring is Shahrukh Khan who had worked with Farah Khan on the beforementioned Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om. He must trust her a lot to have agreed to be in this silly farce. Along with him is the exquisite Deepika Padukone who had teamed up as the love interest to Shahrukh in Om Shanti Om and Chennai Express. And then in a double role was the unexpected presence of Abhishek Bachchan (son of Amitabh and married to Aishwarya Rrai) who is a big star on his own. And as the villain a name from the past, the legendary Jackie Shroff. And be sharp eyed and look for cameos from Malaika Arora (the dancer on the train in Dil Se), Anupam Kher and Prabhu Deva (one of the best male dancers around primarily in Tamil films).

So how messy is this? It begins for reasons unknown with Charlie (Shahrukh) fighting in a free form mud match in which he has agreed to throw the match. He doesn't and this has no relation to the rest of the film whatsoever and the only reason I can see that it was included was to show off Shahrukh's physique - which is pretty frigging impressive for a 50 year old man. Someone must have told him that six-packs are in fashion because he was never like this for most of his career. Once we get past Shahrukh without a shirt on we get to the main plot of the film.

Charlie wants to rob some diamonds that are in a super duper impossible to break in safe in Dubai. $50 million worth of diamonds that belong to Charan Grover (Jackie) an ultra rich bad guy who framed Charlie's father and had him sent to jail 8 years previously. He gathers around him a bunch of losers who all have specialties - Nandu (Abhisek) who has the super power of being able to throw up on cue (it comes in handy) and he looks just like the son of Grover. Jag (Sono Sood, who looks more like Ambitabh at times than his son does) who is a strong man with better six-packs than Shahrukh. Tammy (Boman Irani) a mama's boy but a safecracker as well and Rohan (Vivaan Shah) the hacker who can't get a date of course.

But there is one small catch - in order to break into the safe they can only do it from one room in the hotel in Dubai. Which is reserved for a dance team in the World Dance Competition. And none of them can dance any better than a one-legged man on a drinking binge. They first have to win the match to represent India to be able to go to Dubai. Did I mention they can't dance. So they look to find an instructor and find one who dances in a bar before men - a shameful way to make a living of course. This is Mohini (Deepika) who can dance for me any time. Absolutely, splendiferous. With her own dreams.

This doesn't begin to explain just how broad and absurd the comedy is or exaggerated the action or how corny it gets at times with maudlin sentimentality. It is like watching a high speed ping pong match as mood change so quickly. This film would make any serious filmgoer break out in hives. And in truth the music isn't memorable and the dancing never gets very good. But its like adopting a mangy cat that has been run over by a car and left in the rain - you kind grow some affection for it.