Film: “Happy New Year” Director: Farah Khan Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Boman Irani, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah and Jackie Shroff Length: 180-minutes Rating: 3 out 5 stars
The big Diwali release of 2014 was Farah Khan’s “Happy New Year,” starring her golden boy, Shah Rukh Khan. After making magic with “Main Hoon Naa” and “Om Shaanti Om” the dynamic duo was back at it again to provide us entertainment, excitement and laughs in this typical over-the-top masala high-energy caper.
The film follows Charlie, played by King Khan, in his mission for vengeance from the scheming and wealthy tycoon Charan Grover, played by Jackie Schroff. Charlie’s revenge is personal, as Grover is the man responsible for framing and imprisoning Charlie’s father. After years of research and deliberate planning, Charlie feels ready to make his move, the ultimate grand heist of diamonds that Grover will be storing at his hotel, Atlantis, in Dubai.
However, Charlie obviously cannot do this task alone, so he assembles a motley crew of misfits, including safe-cracking Boman Irani, bomb-master Sonu Sood, drunkard look-a-like Abhishek Bachchan, and computer-hacking Bollywood newcomer, Vivaan Shah, son of theater legends Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak. Each member brings his own skill set, thereby making Charlie’s plan as fool-proof as any Bollywood film allows it be, until there is one catch. In order to get into Atlantis for the day of their attack, the boys must be involved with the major event occurring there—the World Dance Championship.
Into their lives strolls sexy bar dancer Mohini, played by Bollywood’s latest sweetheart, Deepika Padukone. Mohini knows nothing of the revenge plan, but is eager to showcase her dance skills on a national level and so agrees to coach the boys. What follows is their hilarious, blunder-filled journey into the dance world and Grover’s locked up diamonds.
The film is quite hilarious and should be taken at face-value as a comedy even though it has prominent elements of action, mystery, drama, patriotism, and of course, pyaar. At its core “Happy New Year” is a quintessential underdog story, as Charlie’s team is an underdog in both getting revenge and in competing in the World Dance Championship. All the members of the crew are “losers” in their own sense, whether it be Mohini as the poor girl who had to go into bar dancing or Tammy (played by Boman Irani) who is a middle-aged Parsi bachelor living with his overprotective mother. “Happy New Year” represents their passion and determination.
The acting, song, and dance are standard fare in this film. There is nothing too spectacular or out of the ordinary. King Khan does sport a—dare I say—eight-pack, however, and Sood is no eyesore either. All the actors deliver well when it comes to comic timing. Irani lives up to his previous funny roles. Shah also does well for himself. Bachchan’s role is a bit too facetious and minor for an actor of his caliber, but he manages it just fine.
As a comedy though, the film spends too much time with its action sequences. The entire movie is a whopping three hours, much of which could have been cut down without the excessive fight scenes. Towards the middle, the film begins to drag on. You are never sitting there too bored, per se, but it still would have been a more enjoyable experience had it been at least thirty minutes shorter.
“Happy New Year” knows what it is: a stereotypical blockbuster masala film with little grounding in reality. It’s like a mash-up of “Ocean’s 11,” “Mission Impossible,” and any dance movie ever created but with a desi twist. “Happy New Year” has the potential to flail miserably and become an awkward and overused cliché. It is only its self-awareness that saves the film. “Happy New Year” does not take itself seriously, full of quotes from older SRK films and cheeky dialogue. There’s even some silly animation. The movie does not pretend to be slick or cool, but rather banks on its irony. This allows the viewer to enjoy the movie guilt-free. You and the movie know that it’s kind of ridiculous so there is no self-deprecation to make you feel like you’re willingly engaging in something so crazy. The effects and action are loud and so is the comedy.
“Happy New Year” is like that obnoxious, gaudy dress that you have to buy even though you know you will probably only wear it once. That dress, however, serves a good purpose. It’s perfect for that one night or one party, but after that it will go into the depths of your closet. You might be a little embarrassed about wearing it, but you will get over it, because you know how much pleasure it gave you for that short period of time.
“Happy New Year” is a fun, lighthearted Bollywood blockbuster film for the holiday season. It makes for a fun afternoon spent at the theater (with popcorn, of course) with your family, but not much more beyond that.
Saumya Bhutani is a recent graduate of Vassar College, where she majored in history and minored in biology. She wrote her thesis on the relationship between beauty ideals and the changing roles of women in India in the late 1970s. Saumya is an aspiring physician, but also considers herself a history aficionado and pop culture junkie.
March 20, 2023March 21, 2023 4min readBy Nida Hasan
If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking.
I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.
— Smriti Mundhra
As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.
In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.
For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.
At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.
In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.