Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Aaja Naachle - fluff at its most glorious.

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..


ajnabi said...

I couldn't agree more with this assessment. Aaja Nachle is my go-to movie when I don't feel like thinking my way out of a slump. :-) And the title song's dance extravaganza makes my day every time I watch it. Plus, the play! Koko and Kunal make the *best* Laila and Majnu.

Anishok said...

I love, love, love Aaja Nachle. Feminist musings aside, the only quip I had with the movie was Ranvir not getting Madhuri. Yeah, I know, it would have been cliched as hell, cheesy and fluffy...But my logic stops working when it comes to Ranvir "woobie" Shorey in Aaja Nachle.

MsBlogger said...

As Anishok said, I wish Ranvir had gotten Madhuri, the character was quite sweet...

Aaja Nachle is meant to be taken with a handful of salt and no brain, if you follow this, its really quite enjoyable!

The colours are dashing and the performance was the highlight for me, Madhuri is wonderful!

I agree with what you said about Akshaye hardly being a villian... I couldn't place hima nywhere in y head, is he all bad? How much of him is possibly good?

Overall I liked this one, I can't understand how this one failed while something as bad as Kambakht Ishq did well...

bollyviewer said...

It certainly is "fluff at its most glorious"! Loved Madhuri (when does one NOT love her?) and Koko and Kunal and Irfan and Divya and... everybody, in fact! And Akshaye was seriously charming when he explains that he is the villain of the piece. My only quibble with the film was that Madhuri spends all this time choreographing and teaching, putting together a Laila-Majnu dance-drama - and then does all the dancing and singing herself at the end!

veracious said...

ajnabi - It's a fun film, I was really pleasantly surprised by it, especially after giving up watching it the first time after the firs 20 mins were so bleh. Since I've rewatched it multiple times.

Anishok - Yeah, I felt bad for Ranvir but in the end I liked the ending. It felt right.

msBlogger - I think Akshaye's character was just a business-orientated guy, not bad except in Diya's eyes. He was quite sympathetic in the end.

Bollyviewer - LOL, good point about the lack of choreography for the other people in the drama. Only like, Vinay Pathak & her had actual choreography in the final play. Weird. This sort of logical loopholes one just has to forgive the movie, I guess.

Anonymous said...

The movie reminded me of the old Mickey Rooney backyard musicals where all you needed was a barn and lots of enthusiasm.

I especially loved Akshaye. When he meets her daughter for the first time and introduces himself as "I'm the bad guy." I doubt any other actor in Hindi cinema oozes this much smugness and manages to look good doing it.


Bombay Talkies said...

Am I wrong in thinking the basic premise of the plot sounds *exactly* like the Jessica Alba film "Honey?"

*Hides in embarrassment at having admitted to watching Honey.*


shell said...

I like fluff. It's comfy and cozy and I wonder why I haven't seen this yet. Kuna, Koko and Madhuri = win in my book. Searching for it now!

veracious said...

celluloidrant - It's amazing how Akshaye succeeds to be so good in a small role like this but generally fails to pick main roles in anything watchable. I also like how the background music cues us to think this is some kind of baddie when in reality he mostly just shows up to flirt with Madhuri.

Bombay Talkies - ..now I want to see Honey, ha! I have no idea, to be honest.

shell - Hope you enjoy it!

Daddy's Girl said...

Totally agree with your take - fluffy, harmless fun. Cute people. Madhuri dancing. Great music. Yes, it definitely has it flaws, but there's: cute people! Madhuri dancing! Great music!

PS Noooo, don't see 'Honey'!!!