It’s difficult to point out what the worst thing about Happy New Year is, and it’s not owing to any shortage of contenders – starting off with the name itself. The film tries to be too many things at the same time, but humbly settles on being a fearless challenge to human intellect.
Farah Khan and her team fail to earmark what exactly the film is supposed to be. It’s a revenge story, rolled into an underdog tale, added to a slapstick comedy, that is a dance movie and a musical as well, with forced romance as the cherry on top. Happy New Year is a film about dreams, and how everything turns out to be the way you want when the script and the director are on your side.
As a business venture the film is a cinematic masterstroke, as the box office figures testify (which doesn’t speak too well for the taste of ‘shining India’). A lot of the commercial appeal, of course, is down to Shah Rukh Khan; and the film should be a treat for SRK fans with constant allusions to his movies, though that is now a deeply overdone trope as cliched as the rest of this film. It isn’t just a typical ‘Bollywood masala’ movie that will woo the masses in numbers, which is precisely what it is doing couple of weeks after its release, but a caricature of the Bollywood masala movie. But if you’re looking for logic, intellect and filmmaking virtuosity, then obviously you haven’t watched Farah Khan’s movies.
Charlie (Shah Rukh Khan) is seeking revenge for his father, Manohar (Anupam Kher) who was unfairly indicted in a robbery that was masterminded by Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff) years ago. He assembles a six-member team to participate in the World Dance Competition in Dubai, where Grover will be supervising over Rs 300 crore worth of diamonds, which will be kept underneath Atlantis Hotel, the host of the competition.
The team consists of Jag (Sonu Sood), an ex-army man who is Charlie’s family friend; Tammy (Boman Irani), Manohar’s friend and an expert at opening lockers; Rohan (Vivaan Singh) who is a professional hacker; Nandu (Abhishek Bachchan) who is the lookalike of Grover’s son and Mohini (Deepika Padukone) who is a bar dancer who is supposed to teach these people how to dance.
After Rohan hacks the counter, Team Diamond becomes Team India and is voted to represent the country in the World Dance Championship. After a few superficial twists and turns Team India manages to rob the diamonds, seek revenge – and justice – for Manohar and bags the World Dance Competition as well. Sincere apologies for the spoilers, but you would know all this is to come 10 minutes into the movie, anyway.
Everyone acts exactly like they have acted throughout their careers, which can be good or bad
As far as acting performances are concerned, everyone acts exactly like they have acted throughout their careers, which can be good or bad depending on who the actor is. Sonu Sood however, seems to be a little hard done by, considering that his role is pretty much irrelevant and he has improved quite a lot as an actor over the past decade to warrant better roles. The same can be said of Abhishek Bachchan, who in spite of being conspicuous on the screen, both in terms of size and presence, has had his stature further slashed in this movie, rather a tragedy considering that despite his limitations and hereditary expectations, he has given commendable performances (like Guru) in the past.
Shah Rukh Khan is totally Shah Rukh Khan in the movie, and hence his fans should have a ball. Deepika Padukone has a lot of dancing and ‘looking ravishing’ to do, which she manages to pull off with effortless ease.
Anupam Kher makes a special appearance and Boman Irani quite visibly seems to be having a lot of fun playing his part. Young Vivaan Singh doesn’t seem intimidated by the illustrious stars he shares the screen with, and might have a decent future in Bollywood. Probably the only actor who stands out, though, is Jackie Shroff, not necessarily owing to a particularly splendid acting display, but because the movie might just mark his return to playing prominent (read relevant) roles again.
The official billing of the movie is a musical heist, but what basically sums up Happy New Year is that neither the music nor the heist is convincing. That the movie flaunts phrases along the lines of the ‘biggest dance competition in the world’ and the ‘greatest robbery ever’ doesn’t really help, when it’s not backed up with catchy numbers or a thrilling heist.
In an era where Bollywood is shamelessly trying to emulate Hollywood, foregoing its own identity, movies like Happy New Year provide the reason behind the imitations. That the movie will go on to shatter all kinds of box office records, will obviously mean that commercial Bollywood will continue to cash in on star power and not focus on cinematic distinction.