Chandni Chowk to China

Director: Nikkhil Advani
Year:  2009
Rating: 5.0

Back in 2005 Jackie Chan took HK films to India in The Myth and with this film Ashok Kumar returns the favor by bringing Bollywood to China. Though I am not sure if "favor" is the correct word in this case considering how malformed this film is. Ashok Kumar is a huge star in India and has made his share of action films as well as comedies and romances - but I doubt if he has had to play a complete simpering idiot for 90% of a film as he does here. Irritatingly so. Obnoxiously so. Audiences tune into Kumar films to see him as the unstoppable implacable hero who gets the girl and gives them a few laughs along the way - not to whimper and cower for much of the film. This is your typical zero to hero film, but the zero section went on far too long and the conversion to Hero is silly beyond belief.

Kumar plays Sidhu, a not very bright loser who sells and chops vegetables in the Old Delhi section called Chandni Chowk and keeps screwing up in every way possible. He thinks his luck is going to change when he sees the image of the Indian deity Ganesh on a potato. And it does - to worse. Two Chinese men come looking for the reincarnation of Liu Sheng, a great kung fu warrior, in order to free their village from a villainous overlord. For some reason they think Sidhu is their man and Sidhu's "friend" who speaks Chinese tells him they want him to come to their village to celebrate. What a great opportunity he thinks.

The twin sisters separated at birth angle that has littered Bollywood films going way back like garbage on a New Jersey beach is brought out of the mothballs once again. But considering that the wondrous Deepika Padukone appears in this double role, you will get no complaint out of me. In truth, I picked this film out because of her after watching her last week in Happy New Year. She rocks. A great dancer who was a top badminton player as a teenager who went on to be a model. In this film, her parents were a Chinese man and an Indian woman - but when her characters were only a few months old one of them was stolen by Hojo - coincidentally the villain in the village - while the other one is brought back to grow up in India.

But it all collides as things do in Bollywood films when Sidu goes to China as does Shaki (Deepika) and they come across Meow-Meow (Deepika) who has been trained as a kung fu killer and like every twin film known to man, they get mixed up for one another. There is a fair amount of action which to say is exaggerated would be an understatement as punches literally send people into the next town or 30 feet into the air. Some of that is supposed to be comedic but it is just tedious and unnecessary. On the plus side Hojo, who has a hat that slices and dices like Oddjob did in Goldfinger, is played by Gordon Liu Chia-hui, a legend from the Shaw Brothers films. He gets a lot of screen time, gets some action in (very wire enhanced) and is very good at being very bad. He and Deepika made the film bearable though to be fair there are actually a few fairly amusing routines that had me laughing. Still overall this is much too idiotic for most people who are not in a coma. Not me necessarily as long as there is a pretty girl in there. Perhaps that is how Bollywood should rate their films - by levels of seriousness to silliness.