Happy New Year
Dir: Farah Khan
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah, Sonu Sood, Jackie Shroff
Happy New Year is a step up from Farah Khan’s previous film, Tees Maar Khan (freely lifted from Peter Sellers’ After The Fox), which was a complete disaster. But is it a step up high enough? The answer, unfortunately, is in the negative. Farah relies too much on her patented formula — lots of Mollywood self-referencing (including from her own past films); lots of (male) skin show; some slick dance numbers; a few dollops of humour; heavy doses of good old-fashioned melodrama mixed with patriotic fervour – and doesn’t bring us anything fresh or innovative. The formula’s gone stale by now.
The plot — which isn’t too believable but isn’t too complicated either and does have an internal coherency, something which eluded the last outings of Shahrukh’s chief rivals, Aamir Khan (Dhoom 3) and Salman Khan (Kick) — revolves around Charlie (Shahrukh Khan) planning a diamond heist while going undercover in a global dance contest being held in Dubai. Charlie’s angels are Tammy (Boman Irani) an expert safe-breaker, Rohan (Vivaan Shah, Naseeruddin Shah-Ratna Pathak’s youngest child), a young hacker. Nandu (Abhishek Bachchan) is a drunken tapori who can puke (!) on command but he’s needed because he is a dead ringer for one of their heist victims, and Jag (Sonu Sood), ex-Army man and explosives expert. The gang is introduced to us over the first hour of the movie (that’s much too long – this movie needed some serious editing) and includes some silly detours like a long comedic fight scene between Jag and some dance club bouncers. The scene isn’t very funny and is much too slapstick for Farah Khan, who generally has a lighter touch with comedy. Here she seems to have lifted a page from her twin brother Sajid Khan’s book, one which favours humour of the slapstick kind and it doesn’t work. Sajid, himself, is on hand in a cameo as a film director and that scene too doesn’t work.
Other speed bumps include Shahrukh and Sonu ripping their shirts off in slo-mo any chance they get (admittedly, both their physiques are mighty impressive) and Shahrukh repeating various lines of dialogue from his past films. This may be slightly amusing at first but gets old relatively quickly.
At the one hour point is when Deepika Padkuone enters the scene as Mohini, a bar dancer with a heart of gold (what else?) in a song and dance sequence (the movie had been relatively song free till this point but a number of other song-dance numbers follow in quick succession) that livens up the proceedings.
Deepika has come a long way since her debut in Om Shanti Om (another Shahrukh-Farah extravaganza) and she provides some of the bigger laughs in the movie with her mangled English. Mohini’s on hand to provide Charlie and his team the basic dance training that they need to participate in the international dance competition but, of course, she also proceeds to fall for the English-spouting Charlie (she’s got a thing for English, you see). The action then shifts to Dubai and the dance competition and the heist. The whole plan is played out and explained in excruciating detail. It’s not done particularly badly but there’s no particular zip to it (and logic goes out the window on occasion). The dance numbers are done well (a couple of the songs are quite hummable) but the emphasis seems to be more on the spectacle than on any intricate choreography – there’s nothing here which has the impact of a ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’, for example.
The movie then ends predictably with bad guy Jackie Shroff getting his comeuppance. The climactic scene, is, unsurprisingly, one which is clearly manipulative and intended to raise a patriotic lump in your throat – if you are Indian, that is.
Overall, despite the odd moment or two, there’s nothing here which should make you run to the nearest cinema screen. The cast does what it’s supposed to but there’s not anything in the script that gives them something new to do. The Shahrukh-Farah team is treading water.
Cut to chase: Strictly for Shahrukh-Deepika fans.