When the credits that follow the culmination of a movie constitute a ‘happier’ ending than the ‘happy ending’ itself, you know that a lot went amiss during the previous couple of hours that you spent staring at a screen. That the movie, ironically, and deliberately, is titled Happy Ending, and that the likelihood is that you will spend the entire second half waiting for the credits to spring up, further cements the irony of the title.
Happy Ending is a satirical take on romantic comedies in Bollywood, but since the film follows the same rulebook that it simultaneously mocks, it renders the whole exercise pretty much futile. Like many Bollywood films being churned out these days, the overbearing influence of Hollywood is evident, which of course is aggravated by setting the film in Los Angeles – for no discernible reason, one may add. And like many Bollywood films of the recent past, Happy Ending sacrifices cinematic promise to chase box office numbers – ending up failing on both fronts.
What doesn’t help is seeing Saif Ali Khan play the commitment-phobe playboy yet again
Yudi (Saif Ali Khan) is a playboy and a writer whose last – and only – novel was a best-seller, albeit years ago. Yudi is allergic to commitment and is hence constantly changing partners while bathing in the fame of his book. When the eventual decline comes, Yudi is replaced by Aanchal (Ileana D’cruz), whose cheesy romantic novel becomes the talk of the town.
Broke, and devoid of any remnants of his fame, Yudi agrees to script Armaan’s (Govinda) movie, which the aging star wants to be an amalgamation of clichés associated with the genre of romantic comedy. What follows is the film satirising itself, by clinging to the same clichés it criticises. And it doesn’t exaggerate the film’s situations enough for it to be considered a two-pronged satire on romantic comedies in Bollywood.
What also doesn’t help is seeing Saif Ali Khan play the commitment-phobe playboy, a role that he has played umpteen times from Hum Tum to Salam Namaste to Love Aaj Kal. Not the best casting if you’re going for something ‘different’ and seemingly ‘intelligent’.
“Their romance is about as emotionally invigorating as grocery shopping”
The only sparks in the movie come from actors who aren’t in the leading role. Govinda lifts the film whenever he’s on screen, whether with his impeccable comic timing and dialogue delivery, or his trademark dance moves. But like Kill Dil, despite towering above everyone else, his screen time is not anyway near enough to leave a lasting impression on the movie.
The onus was on Saif Ali Khan and Ileana D’Cruz to provide a romance convincing enough to prevent the movie from falling into the pit of meaningless self-importance. And their romance is about as emotionally invigorating as grocery shopping.
Ranvir Shorey, again not a part of the leading cast, provides some of the best comic moments as well as Yudi’s friend who fears nothing more than the wrath of his wife. Kalki Koechlin, as the latest of Yudi’s long list of exes that includes cameos from Kareena Kapoor and Preity Zinta as well, plays her part as the stereotypical ‘clingy’ and ‘suffocating’ girlfriend pretty well.
Also, a shout-out to Yogi – Yudi’s duplicate played of course by Saif Ali Khan – for adding more humdrum to the mediocrity of Happy Ending.
Had the script centred round the ‘script within the script’ that satirises Bollywood, Happy Ending could have been a decent movie. There’s a scene where Armaan and Yudi discuss the story for their movie, with Yudi trying to convince him to go for something realistic and different, an idea that Armaan shrugs off as something that would backfire. One can’t help but think that it was reprised from an actual conversation between Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K.