Monday, December 03, 2007

Aaja Nachle

Rating : 6/10
Running Time : 145 minutes
Release date : 30th Nov'07
Director : Anil Mehta ; Writer : Jaideep Sahni ; Music : Salim-Sulaiman
Actors : Madhuri Dixit, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kunal Kapoor, Raghubir Yadav, Vinay Pathak, Akshay Khanna and Ranvir Shorey

This movie needs two things for you to enjoy it : one is a healthy suspension of logic / reality and the other an ability to enjoy despite the sheer predictability of it all. If you can manage the two, you will be entertained...

The plot is simple enough : Madhuri is taught dancing in a small town in UP, Shamli. She leaves amidst a scandal to marry an American boyfriend and move to New York. She loses contact with parents etc who have to leave town due to the scandal. Many years later, out of the blue, she gets a phone call that her guru, who taught her dancing in an arena called Ajanta in Shamli, is dying and wants to see her. She immediately, along with daughter in tow, comes over but is too late. However, he does leave her a recorded message : basically the govt is taking over the land and selling Ajanta to a mall developer, she alone can now save Ajanta. When she meets the local foreign educated MP (delightful cameo by Akshay), she is made a deal - if she can put up a performance with local Shamli artistes and get a crowd for the show before the demolition date, Ajanta will survive. The rest of the movie deals with her 'struggle' / the selection of the cast for her dance show / the trials and tribulations etc.

What lifts the movie are some great performances and some great dialogue. Jaideep Sahni (the same guy who did Khosla ka Ghosla) hits several home-runs once more with very authentic yet slightly over the top conversations. The 'Amavasya ki raat pe maggi noodles' (Maggi noodles on top of a full moon night), 'Can you write this in 3 copies on Rs 20 stamp paper' and 'yaar, tu jalebi hai' (you're a jalebi, an indian sweet), will linger long in memory. Kunal and Konkona were good without really shining through, Jugal Hansraj was decent though unrecognizable from the Masoom boy, but the people who really stood out were Akshay, Vinay Pathak and Akhilendra Mishra in their respective cameos as the MP, the govt officer and the local chaudhri. Also, special prize for Dalai for being Madhuri's truly endearing daughter.

You have to ignore minor practical thoughts like how can she (an aerobics teacher in NY) decide to happily stay back for 2 months (what happens to her job back home / she doesnt seem rich enough to be able to just chuck it all), how does a govt officer attend rehersals in the middle of the day while keeping his job going, how does the final show itself have lavish multiple sets that would put Broadway to shame. And how come none of the real irritants to doing things in India - the govt, the excise, the cops, the bureaucrats from the MCD etc never bother her ? Small things, but they can be explained and it irritates me that they aren't.

And what of Madhuri ? She clearly still has the spark, is good-looking, can still light a thousand screens with her smile and can out-thumka any current Bollywood actress. However, she cannot hide her age, looks old and clearly uncomfortable in the flashback sequence where she played a student. Also thankfully, despite my fears, this movie was not all about music / dancing and Madhuri but has several nice touches of modern day UP - albiet one viewed through rose-tinted glasses - real but not real enough to show the grime of everyday life. Special mention of the song 'Show me your Jalwa' which lifted everyone through its sheer exuberance.

I enjoyed it despite its predictabilty, despite the songs (they get better in the second half as then they're part of the story progression), despite the irritants detailed above. I guess I'm still a sucker for happy endings !


Unknown said...

Wife is a huge fan of Madix so will end up seeing this anyway...pity was hoping Apurv would give it a better rating...anyway will go in with zero expectations (like I did for Om Shanti Om)

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

The review is not that bad cosidering Saawariya :) .. Am game to watching it other than the few irritants metioned which is a impt ingredient in the bollywood movies it is worth watching once i guess.. Thanks