Happy New Year
Director: Farah Khan
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.