Saturday, June 16, 2007

Jhoom Barabar 

Like Shaad Ali Sehgal’s Bunty Aur Babli, his latest Jhoom Barabar Jhoom is also a tribute to kitsch. Everything from the backdrops to the costumes have bling stamped all over them—and justified to an extent, since the film is part-fantasy.

Like a lot of recent big-bsnner films, this one too has an eye on the Diasoora market – hence the Southall characters, and the Indo-Pak-Hindu Muslim pyar-mohabbat thing, which Asians in the West will love, if they don’t riot over it first!
The hero has a Pakistani best friend, woos a Pakistani girl, so there’s a ‘your-religion-is-the-same-as-mine’ segment in a song.

But after the flag has been waved, then what? It’s an inane opposites-attract romantic comedy probably borrowed from one of the hundreds of the genre that come out of Hollywood on a regular basis.

Rikki Thukral (Abhishek Bachchan) is a crude Bhantinda ‘fixer’ in Southall, doing everything from pirating films to flogging cricket match tickets, with his buddy and partner Huffybhai (Piyush Mishra). He runs into Alvira Khan (Preity Zinta), the ‘propah’ Pakistani at the railway station in London, where they are ostensibly waiting to receive their respective sweethearts.

After an initial spat, they settle down to chat and tell each other their love stories. He met Anaida (Lara Dutta) in Paris, she met Steve (Bobby Deol) at Madame Tussauds in madly romantic circumstances. It would be a spoiler to reveal much more, but everything is designed to fit in a lot of flamboyantly choreographed dance numbers, and even an underground Asian dance competition in a desi Southall joint—where a lot of the ‘jhooming’ takes place. That is when a weirdly dressed Amitabh Bachchan is not punctuating turning points in the story, with his dance accompanied by mechanically gyrating foreign dancers.

Ok, so no laughter or tears expected— it is a popcorn movie, not one you take home and think about— just some chuckle-worthy moments and clever lines that beg to be laughed at. These are mostly divided between Rikki and Huffy.

Beautiful visuals of London and Paris (have money, will show), some good songs (Gulzar going a bit over the top with his imagery) by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and well, it’s ‘timepass’ fare at best.

The surprise here is not Abhishek Bachchan or Preity Zinta who have enough practice at playing this sort of thing, but Lara Dutta whose transition from Parisian mademoiselle to Indian tart is effortless.


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