HNDI FILM REVIEW:
Flawed Comeback: 'Aaja Nachle'
Yash Raj Films’
Produced by: Aditya Chopra
Directed by: Anil Mehta
Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Kunal Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak, Sushmita Mukherjee, Akhilendra Mishra, Raghubir Yadav, Divya Dutta. Special appearance: Akshaye Khanna, Darshan Jariwala and Irrfan Khan
(Top): Madhuri in 'Aaja Nachle'; (Bottom): Konkona (l) and Kunal in 'Aaja Nachle'
I just don’t get it. To do something great for the community or country, do you have to give up all worldly desires including the great Bollywood passion, love, or as they used to say in the good old days, mohabbat?
Here’s a chance to make a film with one of the (still) most glamorous actresses that Bollywood has produced in the recent past, and you shoot yourself in the foot by denying the film the key masala of romance. (There is a sidebar romance of two lesser folks in the film, but that’s never the same.)
I mean, we saw the same thing in Chak De India. Is this some sort of a new trend in Bollywood cinema, an oddball kind of Gandhigiri, where the key protagonist has to practice brahmacharya in order to perform some Herculean task? Because if it is, let me tell you frankly, the whole idea sucks. Brahmacharya in a Bollywood masala film is a bit like a non-alcoholic beverage — you are removing the whole point of the exercise, if you get my drift.
So we have Madhuri sans romance. The film’s premise, though, had possibilities. Some years ago, Dia (Madhuri Dixit), who grew up in Shamli, a small town, fell in love with a National Geographic photographer. The whole town was scandalized. But her dance instructor backs her and advises her to follow her heart. So Dia elopes with her gora lover to the U.S. There, alas, heartbreak awaits. Her hubby turns out to be a jerk and she gets a divorce.
Fast forward over 10 years to the present.
Ajanta Theatre, where Dia trained, is now in ruins. In fact, it’s in its death throes. A gimlet-eyed developer is casting a covetous eye on the real estate, his burning desire is to turn it into a mall.
So what’s a poor helpless gal to do? Simple. Take on a deep-pocketed developer and an uncaring politician and stop the bid to tear down Ajanta Theatre.
That’s easier said than done. However, Raja (Akshaye Khanna), a local politician, throws her a lifeline — if she can produce a successful show in two months, he’ll get the developer to lay off. But no phoren dancers.
Talk about having your work cut out. All Dia has to do is perform the impossible task of producing a successful show with a rag tag bunch of ganwars in 60 days flat.
Can she do it? Hey, it’s Bollywood. If Aamir Khan can get a bunch of unpadh villagers to play cricket in Lagaan, or Shah Rukh Khan can get villagers to build a high tech hydel project, this should be no sweat for Dia, right?
There’s the rub. Even by Bollywood’s highly elastic notion of reality, the film has a hollow ring to it. It tends to strain credulity a bit too much, there are too many holes in the story. Take Raja, for instance. He is a small town politician who has phoren airs and makes his own pizza! I kid you not. I mean, who thinks up this stuff? Give credit to Akshaye for at least having the self-control to play this character with a straight face.
The bottom line is that the film lacks heart. And when a film lacks heart, nothing else works. The music is beyond par, the acting, except Akshaye, is ho hum.
Only Madhuri shines. Of course, age has left its mark, but she still exudes glamour, and her smile still dazzles. But even her kind of star power can go only so far.
Sorry, Madhuri. You chose the wrong comeback vehicle.
— Rating: 2.5 Stars | Mediocre