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Ravina Rawal

‘Party of the Year’ makes you want to leave before midnight

24th Oct 2014

Happy New Year

Director: Farah Khan

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani, Sonu Sood, Jackie Shroff

If watching Karan Johar's Koffee with Karan makes you feel like you gate-crashed an intimate get together among friends who refuse to include you in anything, one you can't exit from quickly and politely enough, Farah Khan's movies are like open parties where everyone's invited. Usually this is more fun, because despite the inside jokes and incessant cross-referencing, for the audience it's like playing Guess Who's Coming to Dinner for hours on end. From "Oh, look! Jackie Shroff!" and "Anurag Kashyap agreed to a cameo in THIS?" to "Whaa...hey! Dino Moreo's still around?" hers are ensemble casts that include superstars, forgotten heroes and family members that no one wants to play with any more; even the extras are all familiar faces. Of course she can afford to do this because her movies all also have Shah Rukh Khan ($$), and she'll always pull in a Katrina Kaif or Deepika Padukone for good measure.

Besides SRK, Happy New Year stars Padukone (the hottest thing in Bollywood right now), and is about a diamond heist, a dance competition, and the battle between Shah Rukh Khan and Sonu Sood's abs. Khan plays Charlie, whose innocent father (Anupam Kher in a quick cameo) was framed by diamond magnate Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff), thrown into jail and eventually killed. Eight years later (don't ask), it's time for revenge. Charlie is going to use a dance competition as a front, steal some priceless diamonds from a supermassive highlydeadly safe no one in the world can open, frame Grover for it, and then coolly exit stage left, pursued by Boman Irani.

Irani plays Tammy, one of a team of five ("Charlie's Angels", butofcourse) that he brings together to help him pull off his ludicrous plan. He's got an unnamed medical condition that cripples him with unexpected seizures that last exactly 30 seconds, but he's the guy who's going to crack the safest safe in the universe. There's also Jag (Sonu Sood) an ex-army, bomb-diffusing, mother-loving superhero who's going to use his mad skills to eventually just switch pipes in a sewer; his nephew Rohan Singh (Vivaan Shah), who's an underage hacker; and a drunken wastrel with a good heart and projectile vomit disorder, Nandu Bhide (Abhishek Bachchan), who's essential because he's a "colour Xerox copy" of Grover's son (double role, brace yourselves). Then comes Mohini (Padukone), looking lovely as ever, a bar dancer with dreams of opening her own dance school one day and learning "the English".

Gangsters of the year in place, the heist unfolds over the next many hours, between too much song, very little dance and calling the Korean team "Ey, Chilly Chicken-Hakka Noodle" because for years now we've considered that our finest, most clever joke.

Farah Khan is known for making fun of and spoofing the industry she's from and everyone in it – sometimes she even nails it – so we're mentally prepared to let little details slide in the interest of an overall good time. What we're not fans of, however, is being taken for granted. Of course the theatres were packed, there's no other release this week (and it's Diwali weekend), but I can't be sure everyone came out feeling they got their money's worth. Despite seeing our most popular stars in action, and Abhishek Bachchan after what feels like forever, without any solid performances, real coherence, or actual wit, it felt like the party of the year concentrated so much on the décor and guestlist that they forgot all about the food and drinks.

It's not necessarily any consolation, but the closing credits are easily the most (only?) enjoyable bit of the film, so if you've sat through the first 10 hours, you may as well not fly off your seat the minute credits roll. Farah Khan dresses up her entire crew in ridiculous outfits for a "Worst Dance Competition" curtain call that has everyone from the producers, designers, spot boys and cameramen to SRK's littlest son, AbRam and her own (very sweet) triplets shaking a leg. Everyone's been rather sporting about it, and it plays out like Farah Khan's peace offering: "Okay, you didn't think the movie was great, but look what a good time we all had making it!" Unfortunately, that's just not enough.

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