Director Farah Khan maybe just four movies old, but her trademark Bollywood kitsch is painfully predictable and requires an appetite for flamboyance. Low on logic, and high on opulence, her movies flourish on song and dance, and rides purely on Shah Rukh Khan’s shoulders, or might we add abs!
Considering this is quintessential Farah, and she’s unlike any other, we decided to review her movie differently.
Does ‘Happy New Year’ measure up to Farah’s own Bollywood formula? We find out.
Shah Rukh Khan
She’s a Shah Rukh Khan fangirl, and her latest ‘Happy New Year’ is yet-another extravagant display of her extreme love for him. Since he’s responsible for turning her first two films into massive money spinners, and costing her a huge loss when he didn’t face the camera, you can’t blame her for being so smitten. Her ‘Happy New Year’ is her way of winning back a friend, but at close to three hours long, her obsession appears unforgivably overindulgent, and one that we can possibly applaud.
Farah’s frames are about abundance. An abundance of skin show, might we add. Whether it’s abs – six-pack or eight – or flat tummies, it’s all about stripping and flaunting. Whether the bodies are dunked in muck, only to be spray cleaned in slow-motion through glossy shots, or left without much cover, there’s a lot of body talk. Unnecessary you might think, but it’s Farah you are talking about. She worked a storm with SRK’s bod in Dard-e-Disco, and she’s not going to let us forget it that quickly. Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani and Vivaan Shah escape unhurt, and fully clothed, and we are thankful for that.
Song and dance
Farah graduated from being a choreographer to a director, so she’s all about song and dance. Every mood finds a song, and every expression a dance move. Her ‘Happy New Year’, however, is her weakest dance link, or should we say the “worst” yet. It’s never about the dance but about comedy of the lowest rank and over-the-top patriotism. Inexcusable when the story revolves around a “world dance championship”. The soundtrack is loud and techno but low on rhythm. So, when the crowd starts pelting her “team India” with inglorious words and rotten veggies you sense their pain.
And, did anyone wonder how it was unethical to rig a dance contest so a bunch of “losers” (their word, not mine) could end up stealing a “handful of diamonds”? Oh I forgot! This is a Farah Khan movie.
Whether it’s ‘Main Hoon Na’ or ‘Om Shanti Om’, or ‘Tees Maar Khan’. It’s the credit rolls that are the most fun. In ‘Happy New Year’, she rolls out her team, and flashes placards that clearly echo our sentiment. “Worst Dance Championship,” she said. We couldn’t agree more. Apart from the cast, we also get introduced to SRK’s youngest boy – Abram Khan. How it’s relevant, you ask? Well, we are as clueless.
Farah’s quite the queen of Bollywood, and boasts of an elite bunch of celeb friends. She’s flaunted that in her previous films, so ‘Happy New Year’ isn’t any different. Only, this time, you kind of sense there’s a dearth of big names. She collects a random bunch, and leaves some to do more self-damage than good. Her brother Sajid Khan walks away fairly unscathed, while Anurag Kashyap lands himself one that’s so obnoxious and unfunny.
While Farah has never been about exotic locations, she takes her bunch of thieves to Dubai, and to the luxurious Atlantis no less. She even pitches an entire song and the climax in the desert city. It’s about homecoming for her hero, so she wanted it to be regal.
SRK leads the pack as the guy who hatches the big robbery and casts the team. While “motivation” is a key element, even dance moves are enough to make it to the gang. The men are mother-fixated, with fights erupting at random over dishonourable comments about their women. Armed with lines from his earlier movies, it’s déjà vu for SRK (and us). His routine arm-stretch, and abs hog the spotlight, and turn painfully robotic.
Boman Irani plays the chubby lock-cracker with a twisted sense of sex appeal to the gallery, while Sonu Sood flourishes as the ex-military guy, ripping out his clothes. Abhishek Bachchan is high-pitched, and lends no real worth to his double role. Deepika Padukone, who appears an hour into the film, is left to impress with an awful accent and fairly simple dance moves.
Armed with no real story and dialogues and scenes borrowed from SRK’s earlier films, ‘Happy New Year’s exposes Farah’s deep desire to impress SRK.
Armed with no real story, an innumerable dialogues and scenes borrowed from SRK’s earlier films, ‘Happy New Year’s exposes a laid-back movie-making strategy. And, while it's not trying to impress SRK, or record his earlier triumphs, it's trying to look into a dance contest, that's more about fancy dress than dance, and a robbery that unfolds fairly effortlessly. The gang of five slip out of many sticky situations without any trouble, and hackers end up having the most fun. It might sounds ridiculous, but logic isn't what Farah wants to offer through 'Happy New Year'.
There's also revenge, love, friendship, comedy, and life's many philosophies that play out in the backdrop.
Despite so-much going on in one film, the narrative is sluggish and often sleep-inducing.