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Perfect partners: Salman Khan and Govinda in the film
Perfect partners: Salman Khan and Govinda in the film

Film: Partner (Hindi)

Cast: Govinda, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Lara Dutta

Director: David Dhawan

Escapism is Bollywood’s delightful reality. And David Dhawan, the master purveyor of a difficult art. The critics have sneered at his work, the masses have lapped up his offerings. His latest “Partner” is expectedly outrageously, leave-brains-behind-in-the-refrigerator comedy. Here, however, he fumbles, he errs. No, he does not fall flat. But the stumbles are frequent and conspicuous. Result? The film that could have had all those with an elasticity of morals, in splits, failing to evoke more than occasional laughs: no, you don’t smile in a Dhawan film, you either laugh or walk out in a huff!

It is a bit disappointing. The film was supposed to be Govinda’s comeback film: he has made a career out of starring in a series of banana peal comedies. Yes, he has starred in “Bhagam Bhag” last December. Here, he occupies the centrestage. He is there in most of the frames, gets some of the best lines, the right camera close-ups for his kind of facial contortions. And manages to deliver a performance that is faintly, very faintly reminiscent of Govinda in his hey days with David Dhawan. The chemistry still works occasionally but suffers from some jarring notes often. Clearly, some rust still needs to be ironed out. Maybe, by their next venture, Govinda will be back in the groove and Dhawan firmly back in the saddle.

And yes, “Partner” was supposed to unite Govinda with Salman Khan, another guy who has not put a foot wrong in the outrageous comedy stakes.

Salman tries his bit, flaunts his muscles, is game enough to laugh at himself too. But is actually reduced to a second hero status. He has to be in a real generous mood for that. After all “Partner” is his home production!

That’s okay, but what is “Partner” all about? Well, does a Dhawan film need a story? It just needs an excuse, then the laughs roll on. Here Salman plays a Love Guru, a kind of agony uncle who unites love birds with advice as profound as ‘if you love her, say it, else I will!’. Among his clients is Govinda, who cannot pop the question to a billionaire’s daughter: dew fresh Katrina Kaif, the closest human imitation of Barbie doll! Since the film clearly caters to the undemanding, easily acquiescing section of the audience, Dhawan neatly infuses raw humour. So Govinda seeks advice on lip-locking. Salman doles out some on ballroom dancing with all the attendant puns. The masses don’t complain. Yet again.

Salman, the Love Guru, himself falls in love with a single parent – Lara Dutta, beautifully rehearsed in her charms – and finds that life for the Stupid Cupid is not a bed of roses. It is not easy being a boyfriend in the bedroom, hubby in the drawing room and a chef in the kitchen.

When the attention of the film shifts to a more low-key Salman-Lara romance, the film suffers. The laughs come in trickles. And the film stutters. Then Dhawan brings Govinda back. The laughs come back. But then the editor goes on a vacation. And the film that could have ended with a happy-forever climax gets a needless twist, only adding quantity to the film without enhancing the quality too much.

ZIYA US SALAM


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