Movie Review: Happy New Year

The most anticipated movie of the year is finally here. Is Shah Rukh Khan's latest release a fun Diwali watch? We give our first impression
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Movie Review: Happy New Year

Director: Farah Khan 

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

Rating: 2.5 stars 

Farah Khan’s magnum opus Happy New Year is built on a foundation of the rock hard and sometimes podgy (think Abhishek and Boman) abs of her star cast. Recurring dialogue from her previous movies (SRK sprouting Main Hoon Na and a reference to Dard-E-Disco), gestures (SRK’s arms-wide-open silhouette just in case you missed it and were living on the far side of the moon) and the ever-looming skyline of the Atlantis that appears over and over and over again, give déjà vu a WHOLE new meaning.

The movie opens to a grand vision of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah’s Guinness Record-book breaking fireworks on New Year’s Eve 2014 and then quickly zooms in on the grand hotel, Atlantis the Palm Dubai – a place whose corridors, sewers, bathrooms, lobby and bedrooms dominate the movie. This may be the longest and most elaborate advertisement ever made for the property. I have lived in Dubai for several years and despite visiting the hotel several times, believe me, there are parts of it I didn’t know existed if not for Happy New Year. Is this marketing genius or just an ad? At times I was confused as hell. Other parts of the movie left me dumbstruck too.

But before I get to those very exciting parts, let’s do a quick recap of the plot: Shah Rukh Khan has been plotting the downfall of Jackie Shroff ever since he wrongly put his father (Anupam Kher) in jail for theft. Whether Anupam is still in jail, alive or dead, is not clear at all (only later does SRK reveal that daddy dearest is, in fact, no more). Jackie announces on national television that he will be keeping some priceless diamonds in a safe at the Atlantis (don’t ask why!) and Shah Rukh gathers a team of losers, each with his or her own skill, to pull off the biggest diamond heist in history. The catch – they will all have to enter the world’s most prestigious dance competition to be able to stay in the Atlantis during the time the diamonds are there. 

The casting is impeccable. Sonu Sood, as the half-deaf meat head with a body that has the ladies swooning, is brilliant. Abhishek is much too talented for some of the lines he has been given. His character has a penchant for drinking too much and vomits liberally every now and then (we have all watched Southpark, Farah – is this Kenny?). Vivaan Shah is perfect as the nerdy teen hacker; Mark Zuckerberg watch out – if The Social Network was made in Bollywood Vivaan would definitely win the part, replete with the unpopularity with the ladies. Deepika plays a dancer who teaches the men how to move so they can take part in the competition and has a Chennai Express hangover with a suspiciously Tamilian lilt to her accent. When Mohini (Deepika) realises her ultimate ambition is to open a dance school (so little girls can shake their booty) for ‘ijjat’ (respect), she is clad in a kanjeevaram sari. AHA! Was Mohini Meenamma after all? Boman Irani, who plays a chubby master of breaking into safes, gave us some of the best laugh-out-loud moments of the movie with a quirky Parsi accent, sorry fits of epilepsy and a bevy of ageing Parsi gals vying to wed him post his dance win. As for Shah Rukh, it finally seems he has nothing new to offer the audience EXCEPT abs of steel that have quite clearly been contoured with eye-shadow or bronzer or whatever it takes for them to look better than Sonu’s.

Now for the most bizarre scenes in the movie. I could write a novel on this but don’t worry, I won’t. But here are a few gems.

Scene 1: Let’s start with why exactly Deepika fell in love with Shah Rukh in Happy New Year? It is only and ONLY because he spoke to her in English. Seriously that, my friends, is the entire premise of the grand love story. Deepika doesn’t speak English and SRK does. Period. He insults her, puts her down and clearly has no ‘ijjat’ (which she desperately craves for her booty dancing) for her but if he lapses into a bout of angrezi, that’s all it takes. HUH??? (Okay… don’t ask why!)

Scene 2: The international dance competition that SRK and company are participating in, is of course aired internationally. Whenever Deepika’s fellow dancers (who she works with in a bar) are watching the competition in Dubai, no matter the time of day or the day itself, they are clad in their skimpy dance wear which, shockingly, doesn’t EVER seem to change. Do they NEVER wear regular clothes? Or ever watch the show at home? Do they not perform anymore? Confusing stuff.(Okay…don’t ask why!)

Scene 3: Neither Abhishek nor Deepika speaks English. When the judge on the stage speaks in English, the rest of the crew translates the goings-on to them. There’s a bit of logic there. However, all sense quickly evaporates at the finale of the competition. Despite being broadcasted internationally, Dino Morea co-hosts it in pure Hindi. And no, there are no subtitles either! So who is translating the Hindi into English for an international audience? Or are the hosts magically speaking in Hindi ONLY for Abhi and Deepy? Hmmph.

Strange moments aside, there were glimpses of Farah’s brilliant humour and not a dull (illogical and strange, yes) moment in the movie. In Happy New Year, like her previous flicks, the best is saved for the last as the entire cast and crew take part in a 'Worst Dance Competition' when the credits roll. It all ends with a svelte Gauri and a cherubic AbRam playing with his besotted dad SRK. Is sitting through the entire movie worth it just to get to the end? In this case, YES!  The final word: Happy New Year is worth a watch this festive season. You will, like me, laugh throughout the movie – whether at, or with them! Dear readers, you decide.