Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vintage Shah Rukh, Vindictive Religion

(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 17 November, 2012, retrieved from http://newindianexpress.com/entertainment/reviews/article1344100.ece)





Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma
Director: Yash Chopra
Rating: 3 stars
Leh Market, Ladakh. A nervous soldier in a bomb suit studies an IED with some nervousness, as fellow olive greens lounge around, waiting for one man with stubble and sunglasses to show up on a cool-looking bike, and save tourists and little children from the wrath of terrorists. Samar (Shah Rukh Khan) shows up. As does a seemingly besotted young soldier, with a “bomb suit for Major Samar Anand, sir.” And that’s when we hear his story. He doesn’t wear bomb suits. He holds the record for maximum bombs defused – ninety-eight. To watch the film, you’d think he’d be closing in on a thousand in the ten years he’s spent in the Army. Because in the span of about three weeks, he’s already on to his hundred and eighth.
One bewildering rescue and a lost-and-found diary later, we find ourselves in familiar territory – Bollywood’s own London. London where Indians and Pakistanis bond on shared language, London where rich girl falls for illegal immigrant, London where people do stripper routines on the Tube, London where you could start working in a posh restaurant because you source “foie gras”...even if you call it “foy grass”, London where women will offer you five hundred pounds to teach them to sing a single song. We go to Hyde Park, the South Bank, Trafalgar Square, the Millennium Bridge, the Tower of London, and practically every line on the Underground. No wonder Samar’s always broke.
Now, let’s move on to Meera Thapar (Katrina Kaif), a racist NRI who wants to marry a gora, any gora, because Indian boys are so boring. You see where she’s coming from. Given that she wears the same expression when she’s kissing, singing, getting engaged, having sex, praying, and pole dancing, there’s no room for any more boring in her life. She has three loving parents (Anupam Kher, Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor in cameo roles), who obligingly disappear when she needs counsel. Pitting God against Lover – you’ll figure that one out when you watch it.
I’ll be honest now. I kinda sorta liked the movie. Yes, I noted every time the characters got the math wrong. Yes, I noted that the characters are between ten and twenty years younger than the actors playing them. Yes, there’s a doctor who sounds chuffed when she pronounces “retrograde amnesia”, and is so triumphant at having encountered a case she gets involved in a charade that can only end badly. And I don’t get why Akira Rai (Anushka Sharma) finds favour with the Major (though, to be fair, he does make her video a bomb defusing without a bomb suit) or with Discovery Channel (though, to be fair, they don’t know she let the camera dangle over a river every time she felt like flirting). And after Shah Rukh Khan, the best acting in the film comes from the men who play three horny soldiers.
But, against my better instincts, I found myself laughing at the wisecracks in the film. And I found myself rooting for a happy ending. And I realised I hadn’t glanced at my watch even once in the three hours the film spans.
The Verdict: There’s something about the Chopra-SRK combination that makes us indulgent; and a fetish for men in uniform doesn’t hurt.

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