Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah, Jackie Shroff
Direction: Farah Khan
Will ‘Happy New Year’ make big money? Most definitely. Are there instances that defy logic? Obviously. Does this multi-starrer entertain? Absolutely.
Farah Khan plays to her strengths. She has an ensemble cast that for the most part don’t disappoint. She has a convincing revenge saga, action sequences designed to thrill, plenty of song and dance, a generous dose of drama, a downplayed romantic track – all this is strung together with a thread of emotions by a director who knows her target audience.
The first half seemed to be moving very slowly; the setting-up took a lot of time and it wasn’t till Mohini’s (Deepika Padukone) entry that things seemed to really move along. I was pleasantly surprised that Deepika was used so well in this film. I was half expecting her to be a beautiful prop, where the men planned the heist and Shah Rukh hogged the limelight. In fact, in a film where romance just wasn’t integral to the general scheme of things, our heroine really did seem intrinsic to the narrative.
And that’s the other thing: Shah Rukh – Bollywood’s King of Romance, hardly spends any time trying to woo an object of affection. In fact, it is almost as if he is trying to reinvent himself as an action hero in this film – rippling muscles, a well-sculpted eight-pack and well-choreographed fights. Is Khan sending out a message to actors who think he is capable of only pulling-off mushy love stories?
It is commendable actually how well Farah’s cast works. The hero and heroine demand your complete attention when they are on screen. Bomani Irani is exceptional. Abhishek Bachchan and Sonu Sood deliver on their brief. Vivaan Shah is missable. But overall, it’s a competent cast.
It is a Farah Khan film, so may be you are willing to overlook some glaring loopholes – like the one where they’re trying to hide Nandu (Abhishek Bachchan) at parties but have absolutely no problem with him performing on stage. He’s exposed to way more people there but suddenly, that seems to be the least of their concerns. Okay, so it is cinematic liberty or whatever explanation the filmmakers will come up with.
What is more disappointing are the song and dance elements of the film. We are ready to overlook flaws in the narrative but except the ‘Lovely’ number, most of the other dances are completely average and I guess, that is explicable because our Indiawale can’t dance saala. But for the climax, I was expecting one jaw-dropping piece of choreography, at least by Deepika, even if the other members of the cast can’t be a part of it. Alas, that wasn’t to be.
Same goes for the music direction, Vishal-Shekhar’s music is disappointing to say the least. Not one hummable number with the exception of ‘Manwa Laage’.
Despite the ifs and buts ‘Happy New Year’ remains immensely watchable because Farah Khan had the audience break into whistles and claps at regular intervals. While I was looking for granular details and dissing the excesses, I couldn’t help but get a little emotional when they drum up the patriotic fervor at the end. I loved how she makes Shah Rukh pun on the lines from his previous films, and how Deepika gives the pep talk in typical ‘Chak De’ style.
Hell, yes, I quite enjoyed most of the film and especially, the end credits. It’s heartwarming to see the entire crew in Farah’s films. She manages to pack-in a little surprise in the credits too.
After a disastrous ‘Tees Maar Khan’, Farah Khan has definitely got her mojo back with ‘Happy New Year’.