One of the first things you notice as the curtain proverbially pulls up at the theatre is the super stand-up comedian Russel Peters as a Gujarati shopowner. This in itself portends good times to come, you think. The opening credits, with the zingy title-track, are just over. You’ve found your seat.
Amitabh, if you may, singing and prancing around with a double-barreled guitar, dressed like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of The Caribbean (to put it mildly) plays no role. He’s just there to be there. Abhishek is the movie pirate, or so he claims, as he walks into a train station: a comfortably exaggerated, boisterous boy from Bhatinda. He meets a stranger of Pakistani descent (Zinta). The two may not share many smiles. You can tell there is faint chemistry. They exchange stories of their respective love-lives. The world set before appears amusing, so does the grammar of storytelling: modeled, without context (of course), on western musicals, the sorts of Chicago or Moulin Rouge, remixed with what’s now come to be described “Bollywood“.
Over a few minutes though, the collective craft takes away so much from the cinema itself that the same aspects that got you glued to the surface, makes you wonder how long can you senselessly float on it. Loss of restraint is established. Soon it ceases to matter: that the protagonists, with no reference points yet, fall in love within two hours of the film, and their conversation; that they are actually not engaged; that the hero and heroine of their two separately faked lovestories, played by Lara Dutta and Bobby Deol, are exactly opposite of what they’ve been made out to be. Dutta is a prostitute, not a Parisian sophisticate; Deol is in reality a mama’s boy, not the super stud.
The plot was never the purpose. The point is to order in a multi-colour, multi-song, multi-dream-sequence, multi-vitamin, willfully brain-dead “blockbuster”. Any script could do. And that’s what this is: an enormously mounted, tendecker wedding cake with all icing, but no cake.
Blurred lines between surrealism, willing suspensions of disbelief and self-indulgence that often blur your brains isn’t new to theatres (Shirish Kunder’s Jaaneman is a much better instance of that). It just hurts when the narrative occasionally reveals the material, traverses from the punishably over-done, technicolour hyper-bole, to the gloriously earthy humour.
When the screenplay simply sticks to sweetly campy caricatures, the energy in the wonderfully wordy sequences is a delicious treat. Abhishek Bachchan walks away with the best lines; Piyush Mishra as his side-kick/buddy is a riot. A 10-minute DVD compilation of those scenes alone would make a better film. It should have been the only film.