That all eyes have been focusing on Farah Khan’s Happy New Year is no exaggeration by any standard. After all be it her back to back successes with Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om, both with Shah Rukh Khan, her first failure in the form of Tees Maar Khan, her subsequent fall out and later patch up with SRK, Farah and her movies have always been in the news. Needless to say it was but natural that people would be curious to know if Happy New Year could bring Farah Khan back to form and if her combination with SRK would turn out to be successful once again. And going by all the buzz right from the release of the first look posters, to the teaser, songs and the trailer, there was no doubt that Happy New Year (or HNY from hereon) would be closely scrutinized as the team geared up for a grand Diwali release.
So when I set out this morning to watch HNY I kept my expectations in check and just hoped that it would turn out to be reasonably entertaining, nothing more, nothing less. So does HNY go on to become another feather in the cap for Farah Khan and SRK? Well let me talk about that in a while. By now unless you are a hermit or plainly someone who doesn’t give a damn about Hindi cinema you would surely know that HNY is all about a rag tag team led by SRK who are out on a heist mission and in the process end up taking part in the “World Dance Championship” as well. Well yes the film is precisely that indeed, but what’s important to note is that this is a heist film delivered in true blue Bollywood style. HNY is not about a bunch of over smart people trying out a heist in a fashion that would make us wonder why we have to make a poor attempt at aping Hollywood films in the same genre.
This reminds me of a recent Malayalam film, Sapthamashree Thaskaraha which again worked primarily because it was a heist film with a lot of fun and most importantly handled with a lot of attention spared to local atmosphere and the quirkiness of the characters. So over here we see that Chandramohan Sharma aka Charlie (SRK) has been waiting to take revenge upon a rich tycoon Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff). Charan Grover had cleverly stolen diamonds and in the process set up Charlie’s dad, Manohar Sharma (Anupam Kher). Manohar gets jailed and 8 years later when Charlie hears of diamonds worth 300 crores coming into Charan Grover’s secure safe for a day in his Dubai hotel, he knows that this would be the best time to work out his revenge. And the perfect alibi for being at the location comes in the form of the World Dance Championship which is to be held at Charan’s hotel. So Charlie assembles an odd team comprising of Jaggu aka Jagmohan Prakash (Sonu Sood), a tough guy who’s got a hearing problem, Nandu Bhide (Abhishek Bachchan), someone who loves to drink and ends up throwing up often as well, Tammy Irani (Boman Irani), an expert at cracking open safes and Rohan Singh (Vivaan Shah), a hacker. And what does Deepika Padukone do? Well simple, she plays Mohini , a bar dancer who wants to open up a dance school for girls. After all the men need to be coached for the dance championship right? 🙂
And all the quirks associated with these characters like Nandu’s drinking and throwing up, Jaggu being unable to tolerate anyone who speaks ill of his mom, Tammy’s habit of having random convulsions which last for a precise 30 seconds, are all made use of at various points in the film cleverly by Farah Khan. We have the standard introductions for all the characters as the team assembles together under Charlie’s leadership and it is not until the first hour is nearly done with that we get a glimpse of Mohini i.e Deepika Padukone, but what an entry she makes with the “Lovely” song, reminding us of the iconic Mohini i.e Madhuri Dixit from Tezaab. That’s not the only film reference in HNY, in fact if you observe carefully you can catch the references coming in at regular intervals, most of them done with good humour. Be it Chak De India’s iconic speech, the 1978 heist film Shalimar, Mohabbatein (parampara,pratishta,anushasan), Deewaar,Farah’s own Om Shanti Om and many other such films.
Oh! There are as expected puns on many things like Koreans, a dominating mother, people from a not so privileged background etc. But then they are all done keeping genuine humour in mind or compensated in some other way, like Charlie who can speak Korean (much to the surprise of the Korean team) or Tammy’s mother (Daisy Irani) revelling in the success of her son later on. Just like Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om, HNY too is a film that never takes itself seriously. SRK and everyone else have a blast, totally letting their hair down and sportingly doing things that most actors would be very uncomfortable doing. This reminds me of the various cameos in the film, most notably Anurag Kashyap and Vishal Dadlani, who have again sportingly caricatured themselves in the film. And watching Dino Morea on screen after ages is again a surprise of a strange kind 🙂 while it’s also fun to see a dig at Narendra Modi and his promise of “ache din”.
The screenplay by Farah Khan and Althea Kaushal receives good support in the form of the dialogues by Mayur Puri, the dialogues which are fun and easy on the ears come in at regular intervals. Vishal-Shekhar’s music works well for the film, be it the breezy “Manwa Lage” (lyrics by Irshad Kamil, sung by Arijit Singh and Shreya Ghoshal) which is filmed quite interestingly or Mohini’s intro song “Lovely” (sung by Kanika Kapoor, Ravindra Upadhayay, Miraya Varma, Fateh), the songs look and feel better on screen. Farah Khan has also done well in terms of getting the casting right and it’s nice to see that SRK does not hog the limelight all the time. Despite Farah’s open admiration for SRK and with him being the producer as well HNY is quite an ensemble film in the right sense. In fact as soon as Deepika makes her entry, the focus remains on her till the interval. Vivaan Shah is endearing, while Boman Irani despite playing a Parsi once again brings in an altogether different portrayal this time. Sonu Sood fits in well while Abhishek Bachchan gets a double role and has a blast as the uncouth Nandu Bhide.
Deepika as the bar dancer with plans of opening a dance school is apt for the role and she manages to portray Mohini as someone who speaks little or no English, quite well. HNY isn’t a film which demands much in terms of a performance from SRK, this is actually regulatory stuff for him. But then for once this isn’t a film in which the spotlight is on him all the time. The film does have its loopholes and if one starts looking out for logic then it is possible to come up with questions that would be tough to answer. Also unlike Main Hoon Na or OSO, HNY isn’t a completely well balanced entertainer. The previous too films had just about the right mix of all the vital ingredients needed for commercial entertainers like these, this is an area in which HNY lags behind a bit. So while HNY may not be a path breaking film it clearly shows us that when it comes to making a good masala film, Farah Khan could be the person to turn out to. With HNY Farah can also afford to finally forget the trauma caused by Tees Maar Khan and look forward more positively. HNY isn’t the best of Bollywood, far from it actually. But as a masala entertainer it does pack a punch and can make you laugh this festive weekend.
Note- A special note of appreciation for the end credits of the film where Farah Khan once again pays tribute to everyone in the team who has worked behind the scenes. That she manages to do it effectively and differently in film after film is all the more praise worthy.