Happy New Year fails to make magic happen
Starring Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rated PG. Now playing
Farah Khan directs her movies the way a film addict would, as loving semi-parodies of Bollywood’s glam masala films complete with countless references to the classics. In Happy New Year, she assembles all the pieces for a big spectacle but fails to make the (formulaic) magic happen.
Shahrukh Khan leads the ensemble cast of A-listers as Charlie—a petty street fighter who has been planning to avenge his father’s wrongful conviction for grand theft. His scheme is to steal a cache of diamonds from the hotel safe of the man who framed his father.
Charlie assembles a team of eccentrics each of whom bring something to the game: Jag (Sonu Sood), a bomb disposal expert, Tammy (Boman Irani), who can crack any safe, Rohan (Vivaan Shah), a hacker, Nandu (Abhishek Bachchan) a look-alike for their target, and Mohini (Deepika Padukone), a dancer. Why would they need a dancer, you ask? Well, obviously, because the robbery needs to be concealed inside an international dance competition. Duh!
The film is a messy combination of standard elements from ensemble capers like the Ocean’s franchise and films about the underdog team who plays/dances with their hearts. Neither genre is represented well. The heist is nowhere near clever enough to be interesting and despite each character getting plenty of screen time, they never move beyond caricature. The choreography is purposefully dreadful to indicate the team’s ineptitude and, aside from “Manwa Laage”, the music from veteran duo Vishal-Shekhar leaves no impression.
Like all masala films, there is a romantic subplot, fights, and a preachy nationalistic message to tie it all together. And yet, the film still drags. Sadly, it could lose an hour and still be inexplicably dull.