Film Review: Aaja Nachle


Film: Aaja Nachle


Cast: Madhuri Dixit, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kunal Kapoor, Akshaye Khanna


Director: Anil Mehta


Producer: Aditya Chopra


Banner: Yash Raj Films


Rating: 2/5


The celebrated come-back vehicle of THE Madhuri is a vainglorious attempt at recreating the magic of La Dixit with new spices in the tale. The ensuing fare is pretentious in its taste underlining the fact that Madhuri, the phenomenon belonged to an age that is no more.


The movie tells the story of Dia, a small-town Indian woman, now living in America, who is a single mother and has a single passion in life; dance. Dia returns to India, despite having sworn never to return, to see her Guruji, who is on his death-bed. On her arrival she finds that the amphitheatre where she and other girls used to practice dance with her Guruji is being demolished by the Government to construct a mall. Dia decides to take up cudgels against the Government to save her emotional heritage and her town’s cultural one. The ups and downs, hurdles and victories, friends and foes that come as a part of this journey form the movie.


Amongst its many other failings the movie fails to engage right from the beginning. A weak screenplay and some embarrassingly bad performances take away from the film what little it has. The screenplay lacks an energy which makes a tale of fighting against great odds, captivating. The film loses its grip especially in the pre-climax which has odds that are not strong enough. Those that have existed throughout the film have not been used well. The process of overcoming them is hasty and glazed over resulting in the audience detaching from reveling in Dia’s or Shamli’s victories. A huge failure for a screenplay of such a plot.


The characteristaion is believable but the portrayal lacks conviction. As Madhuri looks like the diva who has flown in from the US to do this movie the others look equally unconvincing. With the exception of Kunal Kapoor who makes an excellent Majnu, every other actor and motivation has been wasted in the film.  Konkana Sen, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey form the bastion of good actors that draw you to the film but leave you totally unsatiated. Akshay Khanna makes a surprise appearance as the good ‘bad’ guy and his is one role that has some level of conviction and is played with equal élan as well. One wishes that the same dust had rubbed off on the other principal characters.


As for the dancing queen, one can quite see that time has not rusted her talents, be it acting-wise or dance-wise. But it is impossible to get back the Madhuri as we knew her and that is the fool-hardy attempt of the film that makes it all go vain.


Another drawback of the film is the lack of a genre. The film neither belongs to typical Bollywood fare, realistic cinema, cross-over experimental fare, or established genres of musical, drama etc. It lands somewhere in between much like the experience it provides the audience after watching the film.


The interspersing of the song-and-dances makes the film static rather than maintain its fluidity. More often than not it interrupts the flow of the narrative and makes one wish that there was one song/music piece less. Nor is the music as appealing or catchy that it will stay with the audience or to merit repeated hearings. The movie loses its focus in trying to cut a path between showcasing Madhuri’s dancing skills and telling a strong story. Both motives keep fighting for centrestage with the former winning more often than not.


For a film about dancing with the dancing diva of the century, it does not do maximum justice to her talent or the medium. Vaibhavi Merchant’s choreography may have innovative steps but the movements are restrictive and more so do not explore the infinite possibilities that Madhuri as a dancer holds.


Technically, the film does not impress greatly. The camera mostly has staid frames to show for most of the locations and emotions. Another disappointment as since the ace lensman Anil Mehta graces the director’s chair this time, expectations are high. The film lacks the spectacle and festivity of a dance-drama or the tone of grit and determination that the film centrally talks about.


From its promotions to the finale, the movie has only Madhuri to promote. Which is probably the bane of the film because, in doing so it does not remain one. It becomes a Madhuri-showcase which it does not do well either! As for the diva, it is ever-pleasant to watch the smile that (must have!) launched a thousand ships but sadly the age is gone. The Bolly age we live in, right now needs to take a serious stock of itself before making more disasters like these.