Emperor’s new clothes

Fizzling crackerA still from “Happy New Year”  


Genre : Drama/Comedy

Director : Farah Khan

Cast : Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Vivaan Shah, Boman Irani, Anupam Kher

Catering to the festive mood of the masses, Farah Khan and Shah Rukh Khan have come together to conjure up a universal entertainer this Diwali. Low on emotional depth and detailing, they have put together a spectacle whose shine might blind the audience from looking beyond the surface. Yes, look is the catchword these days. If you manage it, the craft becomes redundant.

But scratch a little and it is as shallow as the duct Charlie (Shah Rukh Khan) and his angels use to carry out the heist.

To begin with, here abs have more expressions than the faces, here inspiration comes not from life but films that the star and the director have done together or have admired over the years. The dialogues are as deep as the punchlines thrown at the audience in Comedy Nights With Kapil . In fact the tone of writing reminds one of the gags that we find on the popular show.

Farah’s last film was also a heist story where Akshay Kumar was trying to be Tees Maar Khan.

That one bombed, but now as she has found her real Khan, there is some method in the madness on display. The Shah Rukh-Farah sense of humour that many of us were missing for a long time is on show albeit intermittently. Like when Charlie offers to marry his accomplice (Boman Irani) when he cracks the safe or the way she and her writers have used the dialogues of Shah Rukh’s hits films in different contexts.

Shah Rukh’s films always put emotion over technique and here it takes a long time to put the supremacy of heart over mind or for that matter bring the patriotic flavour after rigging a reality show, but when it does, these losers redeem themselves. The heist part looks quite simplistic in the beginning for the gang believes they can hack their way through any obstacle, limiting the cinematic appeal of the process, but as the film reaches its final lap one finds that it is not that dumb after all.

Shah Rukh once again repeats himself in a role that is woven around his strengths and even the humour is made around the fear of losing his ability to spread his arms the way he does.

Deepika Padukone once again threatens to outshine Shah Rukh in comic scenes as Mohini — the bar dancer who joins the gang to reclaim her respect — but is saddled with an underwritten role.

Smitten by the English speaking ability of Charlie, Farah fails to cash in on it after a couple of gems.

Unfortunately, the other members of the gang — Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood and Boman Irani — don’t get the same level of infection. Abhishek and Sonu struggle with their comic timing and Boman repeats himself in the absence of any fresh challenge. Their back stories reek of sameness and make 180 minutes feel too long.

Oh! Yes the film talks a lot about the motivations of its characters to be part of the plan.

They are as old as creative writing, as Farah and her team of writers bring back the good old maa-baap ka badla into play. She brings in the old school melodrama, makes fun of it but then realises that this is a Shah Rukh film that takes family seriously, creating a jarring effect. Perhaps this the definition of a layered script in Farah’s universe!

Charlie puts together a team to avenge the humiliation of his father from a diamond magnate Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff), but for this they have to win a world dance competition in Dubai. It creates opportunities for Dubai darshan and brand endorsements insuring the film against the fickleness of audience taste.

Such films are usually called tentpoles because they try to appeal to everybody under their cover. In the process the nuances are sacrificed and manage to generate pluralistic ignorance through their mind numbing marketing. Where the audience begins to feel that there is a problem with their taste if they do not like it. The opening managed by a humungous number of prints, lack of completion, hype, festive mood and an enviable star cast creates a spiral effect which can only be put to rest by posterity.

For a film that is set around a dance reality show, the music is a letdown. And we know that this is about a bunch of losers but the some ingenuity could have gone into creating the moves on the dance floor.

For all the potholes, the silver lining is it doesn’t take itself or the audience seriously. You can sense it through the self-aware writing. It is like a Diwali cracker whose value lasts for one night.