Friday, May 05, 2006

36 China Town 

Abbas-Mustan’s 36 China Town could not have been copied from a Hollywood film (like so much of their earlier work), and if it was, then the director duo picked a very bad film to remake. You can only shake your head with disappointment and disbelief.

On the face of it, 36 China Town goes by the murder mystery rule book: a corpse, lining up several suspects, cop investigating, suspects get caught interrogated, all of them summoned to one place and the killer unmasked, and it is not one of the suspects. But the script keeps taking needless diversions into songs, comedy tracks and instead of getting the audience on the edge of the seat to guess who could have done it, they try to get them to laugh at some lamebrain gags instead.

Set in Goa’s China Town (Does Goa even have a China Town? And does it look like this?) though so obviously shot abroad, the murder victim is rich casino owner Madam Chang (Isha Koppikar). Her son has been kidnapped and she has offered a large reward for it. An aspiring actor Raj (Shahid Kapoor) and runaway heiress Priya (Kareena Kapoor) find the child (a very cute and amazingly placid tot) and reach Goa to return him and claim the prize, only to find a dead body on the floor. They run leaving a trail of clues behind.

Others who wander into the plot are two gamblers (Paresh Rawal-Johny Lever), their wives (Payal Rohatgi- Tanaaz Lal) and a playboy Rocky (Upen Patel) with cheesy pick-up lines.

Within a few minutes of the film’s beginning, two songs come in back to back and another follows soon after. Then the three stars who had been hired for glamour are put into cold storage while the comedians do their number. It’s only after the interval that the cop (Akshaye Khanna) arrives with irritating sidekick, arrests a very guilty-looking Raj, and looks exasperated when more and more suspects keep turning up.

First of all, nobody cares about the murder of a shadowy character who appears for just one scene and song; and at no point is any tension built up about innocents being trapped in a scary situation with no way out. So in a hasty wrap-up when the killer is revealed, there is no sense of surprise, just relief that the lazy-paced film has ended!

The Page 3 ‘hottie’ Upen Patel is not all that hot on screen and can’t act either. Strange that stars like Akshaye Khanna, Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor even agreed to do such insipid parts. If there is a redeeming feature here, it’s Himesh Reshammiya’s music.


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