Sorry guys, no full-fledged review. I was going to dedicate my review to Gabber, but after watching it a the New York premiere earlier this evening, I decided I liked Gabber too much to do so.
For months, I’d been saying on NG that the one thing that worried me about Chandni Chowk to China’s box-office prospects was that in recent years, the audience hadn’t taken well to zany, spoofish humor, as demonstrated by the fates of Tashan, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, and Jaaneman. But I wasn’t unduly worried about the quality of the film (after all, I’d quite liked each of the three films mentioned above).
Well folks, I was right on one count and wrong on the other. Having watched the film, I remain unsure about its box office prospects (I hope the film does well, but I can’t say I expect it to do so). But I was wrong in expecting to enjoy this film. Dead wrong.
Chandni Chowk to China is, not to put too delicate a point to it, pretty darn bad. In the first instance, it is unsure about what kind of film it wants to be; unlike a Jaaneman which started out spoofy and ended up sober, or an Om Shanti Om or Tashan which also devoted their second halves to getting serious, Chandni Chowk preserves a schizophrenic identity throughout. It cannot be dismissed as a spoof, as it takes its masala roots and moments (right from amnesia to bichday huay bachchay to backstabbing mentors) quite seriously — and yet just about each and every one of these
moments is rudely interrupted by a farcical moment, a manufactured attempt to evoke laughs, that quite simply spoils the mood. The film never recovers from this, because these two personalities are never integrated into a seamless whole, and the masala moments — the one thing this film had going for them — that seem poised to move the audience come crashing back to earth.
Now for the good stuff: it was great to see Akshay do some real action towards the very end of the film, albeit this was all too brief and juxtaposed with shots of the villain metamorphosing into an aaloo (you can’t make this up), and there were some evocative shots of the Delhi streets (even if these were sets, they were good ones) throughout the film. Akshay also had some good comedy moments, and the audience really seemed into it early on in the film. Sadly, this is another one of the film’s strengths that it fritters away (the scene of Akki trying to close the luggage compartment in the airplane to China is hilarious). Deepika Padukone was at her leggy loveliest, and the action sequence introducing the “Chinese” Deepika was superb. And I really liked the grand, zany, picturization of the title song. And I laughed out loud at the crazy touch of a Chinese man who’s lost his memory, his daughters Deepika, and only speaks Hindi . Other than that there wasn’t much — even the much vaunted on-location shooting in China was limited to shots of, on, and around the Great Wall 95% of the time.
PS– Goodfella saw it with me too. Neither one of us, nor a third person who had accompanied us, was impressed (the third friend walked out 15-20 minutes before the film was done)
Oh, and being a premiere, I got to see Akshay and Deepika in person.
All in all, I am VERY disappointed. Score one for Nikhil Advani’s ponderousness over Rohan Sippy’s Taxi No. 9211 and Bluffmaster! touch…