Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy New Year

Do other American moviegoers do the thing where you see someone you like in a foreign movie and immediately start wondering how good his or her English is, and if he or she will be coming to Hollywood soon? It's selfish and petty and I've been doing it with Deepika Padukone for the last couple years. That said, I'm also kind of enjoying being the only person I know who knows about her, and I kind of fear that Finding Fanny might indicate that some of her charisma might be lost doing something outside of her native language(s).

That said: She's awesome.

I was kind of surprised that they had a full 15-minute preview block ahead of Happy New Year, what with it being three hours long and all. As usual, the Indian movie previews are weird - big declarations of the producers but not really acknowledging the stars at all. Full animation on the studio and production company logos, compared to US previews which generally get a couple seconds as a still during previews. And, hey, wasn't Dr. Cabbie supposed to come out a month ago? Did it only come out in Canada but not have its US/India release yet? Are they waiting for Adrienne Palicki to get a higher profile with John Wick and Agents of SHIELD? And, man, what was that absolutely bizarre preview for something in the Tamil language? It's the strangest thing I've seen on a movie screen in months and I hope like heck there are English subtitles, because I have no idea what's going on with it.

Happy New Year

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 25 October 2014 in Regal Fenway #4 (first-run, DCP)

If you've read my reviews of Bollywood movies over the past couple of years, you'll find a couple of patterns: Just because I enjoy them as a change of pace from the usual Hollywood fare doesn't necessarily mean that I don't get extremely frustrated with their shortcomings, and I really like Deepika Padukone. Happy New Year does not exactly deviate from that - she's the best part of a heist movie that gets fairly seriously lost over the course of its three hours.

The mastermind is Chandramohan "Charlie" Sharma (Shah Rukh Khan), who has his eyes on a Christmas Eve caper in Dubai that will get him revenge on Charan Grover (Jacki Shroff), the man who framed Charlie's father Manohar for theft and built a lucrative security business on Sharma Senior's inventions. He puts together a team of well-motivated accomplices: Temhton "Tammy" Irani (Boman Irani), a safecracker with a tendency for fits; Jagmohan "Jag" Prakash (Sonu Sood), a demolitions expert deaf in one ear; Rohan Singh (Vivaan Shah), Jag's hacker nephew; and Nandu Bhide (Abishek Bachchan), a dead ringer for Charan's son Vikky. There's just one catch: The plan involves posing as Team India in the World Dance Championships, and Rohan's hacking the audience vote will only get them so far. Thus, they bring in Mohini Joshi (Deepika Padukone), a bar dancer, to lead their "troupe" without knowing what's really going on.

There are some fairly improbable bits in Charlie's plan, but that's not really the half of the movie that makes Happy New Year feel kind of off. The dance competition portion of the movie is relatively slow to develop in the first half, enough so that the audience can't quite invest in it as "real", but it winds up enough in the foreground that the guys' lack of ability makes for some eye-rolling. Writer/director Farah Khan gets a couple of good laughs out of "Team Diamond" cheating their way into the world championships, but once you do that, it's more than a bit disingenuous to try and stir patriotic feelings in the audience by having them root for Team India, no matter how catching "Indiawaale" may be as a song.

Full review at EFC.

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