Farah Khan is that rare female director who is unapologetically Bollywood. ‘Tees Maar Khan’ aside, ‘Main Hoon Na’ and ‘Om Shanti Om’ were ‘total timepass’. Her latest film, the multi-starrer grand advertisement for Dubai, is no different.
So men are objectified as much as women with a hearty display of six pack abs (Shah Rukh Khan, Sonu Sood, Deepika Padukone); the actors poke fun at themselves thereby encouraging the audience to laugh at them and with them; there are numerous cameos (Vishal Dadlani, Anurag Kashyap, Dino Morea, Malaika Arora Khan, Anupam Kher); and in the mould of many recent movies, the actors often recycle dialogues from their own earlier movies.
The story itself (written by Farah Khan, Althea Kaushal, Mayur Puri) checks all the boxes that make for a Bollywood masala movie: revenge, friendship, underdogs, romance, comedy, fights, dances, multiple costume changes, foreign locations and a happy ending.
Charlie (Shah Rukh Khan) wants to avenge diamond baron Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff) who framed his father on a robbery charge some eight years ago. He plans to do this by robbing a safe that is placed many feet below the World Dance Championships stage in Dubai. In order to successfully pull off this heist, he enlists a Parsi safe cracker with an epilepsy condition (Boman Irani), a hearing-impaired bomb expert (Sonu Sood), a drunk with a vomiting problem (Abhishek Bachchan) and a geeky computer hacker (Vivaan Shah). All these men have two left feet. So in order to make their entry into the dance event plausible, he ropes in bar dancer (Deepika Padukone) to choreograph their moves.
So ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ meets ‘The X-Factor’ and you have ‘Happy New Year’. With each actor being accorded an ‘introduction’ scene (like in ‘Om Shanti Om’, SRK has a scene covered in mud, doused by a gushing hose, exposing his rippling muscles), it takes a while for the film to find its groove, and then the humour starts rolling. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, two gratuitous (and unnecessary) fights and more than enough bad dancing.
While the camaraderie between the ensemble reflects on screen, it’s the supposedly well-planned heist that is a letdown. Predictable and lacking a cinematic adrenaline rush, you find yourself with plenty of time to figure out critical plot points way in advance, which makes the manipulative patriotic trick at the end even more irritating.
Farah Khan almost gets away with it all, including the repeated shots of Dubai, except that keep waiting for something new, something you have not seen or heard before… but that never comes.
Deepika Padukone, Boman Irani and Abhishek Bachchan pop from the screen in each of their scenes, as does Sonu Sood – quite literally. Vivaan Shah does not have enough material to bite into. And Shah Rukh Khan simply dips into his finely tuned bag of tricks. As they say, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
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