November 23 2013
New York, US
Bollywood heartthrob Saif Ali Khan hasn’t had the best of a year, but can this US-India romcom save him?
By Naresh Kumar
ANOTHER film, and another man with relationship issues gets our attention on the big screen.
This time it’s Bollywood megastar Saif Ali Khan playing Yudi in “Happy Ending” rather than the ‘K’ character in the curtain raiser “X” at the New York South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF), which opened on Tuesday (November 18).
Screening on Thursday as the SAIFF gala centrepiece film, “Happy Ending” was classical Bollywood fare in many ways, a bit clichéd, a bit formulaic, a bit rubbish, but it does all really go with the territory…
And there are huge redeeming features – and none more so than in the form of screen legend, Govinda who plays fading Bollywood star Armaan.
Who does he turn to revive his flagging career? A plastic surgeon…yes but also Yudi (Khan), who is charged with writing a script that will make him make A list material again.
So, Yudi is the central character around which all the action will revolve. He’s one of the strongest clichés in any book/script: he’s a bit selfish, vain, financially successful, based abroad and just not into settling down, a ladies man. He has an alter ego character, Yogi, who’s hairier, more fun and perhaps more real and very funny.
Yudi’s current squeeze Aanchal (Ileana D’Cruz) is pegged as ‘The One’ – who might just convert our Yudi to the straight and the narrow.
Indeed, the ending – look away now, if you want to be kept in suspense – makes you think, ah, so Yudi’s had to give up his playboy lifestyle finally.
And you’re left thinking love has conquered all or…the end was pretty abrupt and left a lot to be desired.
Was it ‘let’s just finish the film here and give it the title, Happy Ending’, so everyone goes home happy as they have to, after watching any Indian movie?
Who knows? And some would undoubtedly say, who cares?
There’s enough entertainment to be led all this way and up to an abrupt finish.
There was no consistency to Cruz’s character – at some points, she doesn’t look ready to commit but then by the end, she’s in love! She’s definitely the weakest link.
Sorry, but there is a problem with Cruz the whole way through – it really did seem like she was just going through the motions and in the scenes with Saif, there was zero chemistry – it was incredibly bland and dull.
She’s the one really bad spot because everyone else turns in good show – and Govinda does an amazing job.
He is fricking hilarious. He has a huge screen presence and he outshined everybody in this. It was a fantastic role for him and he brought such energy to it – even his dancing is immaculate.
He steals the show and in doing so helps save the film from being a mediocre, run of the mill, Bollywood romcom.
Saif too is good – fans will be reassured and to others, he is showing that he hasn’t lost it.
Ranvir Shorey is also excellent and his superb natural delivery of the funny dialogue helps keep this on track.
As well as the standout performance from Govinda, it was lovely to see Preity Zinta, once such a big draw, back and in great form. Her role may have been small but it was vital.
Kareena Kapoor, Saif’s real life wife, also plays a cameo part and is good value.
It’s definitely worth watching for Govinda. There are some great one-liners, and the cinematography is strong and the soundtrack is very solid too. Just shame about the too many and obvious ‘Bollywoodisms’ and Cruz.
ACV rating: *** (out of five)
The South Asian International Film Festival closes tonight (Sunday, November 23) with the Pakistani comedy thriller, ‘Na Maloom Afraad’.
For information, please click www.saiff.org
‘Happy Ending’ is in cinemas worldwide now