In my understanding Aaja Naachle (2007) did not do great in the box office. People found the story cliché and shoddy in execution. Just as well. While it doesn't bring much to the table in terms of substance, I can't begrudge the movie, it just delivers entertainment of the glossy, vibrant and fluffy variety.
The fact is, the film only really begins around 30 minutes in. The preamble of Diya (Madhuri Dixit) dancing at a New York studio, moving like it's Dil To Pagal Hai, then finding out her guru is dead, then the backstory of her meeting an American guy (clearly from the male model school of non-acting) and moving to his country to the shame of her family.. All of this is pretty much boring and clichéd to the absolute max. Diya's kid is annoying and she clearly hasn't taught two things about her past to her own child (wtf?!) and the fact her divorce to Mr Americano was almost as soon as her plane landed in the US is bizarrely simplistic (apart from you know, white guy, foreigner, bad, bad, grr!).
Enter this guy, who is the villain in the loosest possible meaning of the word. And I assure you, this isn't just my blatant Akshaye fangirlism speaking, because the fact is, without dramatic tension there is no movie, and his character is the one who brings some to this incredibly fluffy piece. He wants to tear down the unused theater and Diya isn't keen of the fact, and so they make a deal - if she can put on a show full of locals to revive the culture scene of her village, he won't tear down the amphitheater. (More about this guy during Khanna Week in May - for now this paragraph will suffice.)
And here's where Aaja Naachle finally kickstarts, as Diya begins seeking out local talent, which is why we get a cavalcade of awesome side characters, all with their fluffy little existences, coming together for some musical magic.
Ranvir Shorey is Diya's left-behind former fiancee, still tragically in love with her.
Vinay Pathak as a civil servant wanting to impress his theater-loving wife.
Divya Dutta as Diya's former best friend and Irffan Khan as her businessminded husband (and "villain" number two).
Konkona Sen Sharma as the adorable tomboy fiercely crushing Kunal Kapoor's boy-next-door/goonda (but goonda only in the fluffiest manner).
And it's really just so entertaining and fluffy and glossy and fun, that the flaws of the beginning mysteriously begin to melt away.
What with all the colours and the fun and the dancing..
Oh the glorious dancing!
Could they have made a better movie out of this? Sure. There's a lot of untapped potential here for substance, perhaps kind of sadly so. The way Akshaye's character questions Diya's status as a current NRI coming to "save" a bit of India and damaging what he sees as progress while doing it is countered by her questioning his own foreign education (she was educated in India) being used to also "fix" India as he sees fit. But this angle of the story isn't explored beyond the initial touch.
The way Konkona's tomboy transforms into a beautiful young woman could've emphasized how changing how she dresses doesn't change who she is, and who he, in the end, is falling in love with.
But you know, minor quips. Focus on the fun, and there's plenty of it here.
Fun times, gorgeous Madhuri.
It's like, why bother hating?
You want colour, fun and warm fuzzies? Watch Aaja Naachle. You want something heavy and thought-provoking? Read a book.
Just telling it like it is..