Directors: Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru
I am saddened to see the quality of movies directed by the Raj-DK duo fall steadily after the highs achieved with 99. Shor in the City was good, Go Goa Gone inconsistent but funny and now Happy Ending that misses it’s mark despite having a broad target to shoot at. “A Comedy about Romantic Comedies” says its tagline. A more appropriate one would have been “A Romantic Comedy about Romantic Comedies”. Raj-DK eschew the formula that made 99 work and settle for a sappy romance with jokes thrown in between as lubrication.
Saif Ali Khan plays an author who can’t commit to a serious relationship in his life. He has played this commitment-phobic character so many times that you are already pissed off seeing him do the same thing yet again. When the book he authored was a hit, getting chicks was not a problem. This happy phase of his life brings in the opening credits with Saif dancing on the streets surrounded by attractive girls a la Austin Powers.
Cut to five and half years later. The fame and money have dried up and his readers now prefer reading romance by a new “Asian” author, Ileana D’Cruz. He is no mood to get back to writing another book, blaming it on writer’s block. But to keep the cash flow going, opts to write the screenplay of a movie for an actor (Govinda) looking to make a transition from the single screen to the multiplexes. This is the second recent case after Akshay Kumar in The Shaukeens where an actor is gently spoofing his own image. The bad news is that Govinda’s role is as brief as Akshay’s. Govinda has delivered hit films in the past but never quite gained acceptance as a hero of the classes.
The material isn’t fresh. Some of the best comedies from Hollywood like Get Shorty or Bowfinger get their laughs from ridiculing “industry-types”. Yet it’s sufficient material to pack in two hour worth of original laughs. Raj-DK have given it a shot but the transition between one funny moment to another isn’t smooth. There are long passages which pass by without incident, as if the writers were at a loss to enliven the scene. Saif, who is often reliable with his comic timing, scores a few times but misses more often. His best moments are where, in a sort of a double role, he plays his own inner voice in a Punjabi/Haryanvi accent. For once, he lets go his jerky, 12 fps style of acting. Ileana is likeable as the anti-romantic heroine. But its Ranvir Sheorey, playing the hero’s friend, and I will again have to say yet again, who steals the show. He play’s a henpecked husband whose only respite in life is having a few drinks with his friend. One suspects his life would probably have made a more interesting, funnier movie.
As the opening credits say, “Above all, Govinda”, I will dedicate an entire paragraph to him. This in addition to an article about him, elsewhere on this website. “Above all” is industry short hand for an extended cameo. He has three and a half scenes and one song. And most of his lines have already been exposed in the trailer. Govinda is at a stage in his career where if the public does not like what he does, the blame will squarely fall on the director. Ask A. R. Murugadoss for “wasting” him in Holiday or Mani Ratnam for “underutilizing” him in Raavan. He’s good at whatever little he does, but it’s just not enough.
Raj-DK have a few nice ideas. For instance, I liked the way the interval was ushered in. The jokes, where they do work, are top-notch. And if you really want to look for positives, I’ll say that even in the flat parts, the film isn’t boring. It’s just bereft of outrageous thinking.
Speaking of outrageous, the coming weeks will see a limited release of a film called Sulaimani Keeda. In terms of plotting and characters, it’s eerily similar to Happy Ending. But if the censors let it pass without cuts, it is the film Happy Ending should have been. Don’t miss it!