Like Duplicate, this is a silly fun crazy movie with no depth. And therefore, a total delight!
For the Shahrukh fans, this film is a freakin’ delight. He does goofy humor, he drops into sincere romance on a dime, he even has tense and sincere action hero at the end. Plus great Farah Khan songs and dances, endlessly watchable. For non-Shahrukh fans, it is maybe not really worth it. This movie is just SO WEIRD. You think you know 90s weird, but you really don’t. Just, SO WEIRD. Like, our heroine’s brother dies thanks to the behavior of the hero and it doesn’t even come up? And that’s not even a spoiler, it is such a small forgotten plot point.
We were just talking about reviewers needing to write the review for the film they are watching, and act as guides not as rule makers. So I won’t say that you should, or should not, watch this film. But I will say that if you don’t enjoy both Shahrukh Khan (who is on screen for almost every scene) and over the top sight gags and ridiculous comedy, this is probably not for you.
On the other hand, I can say that the song sequences at least are for everybody. Really, there is a certain something about Shahrukh, Farah Khan, and Anu Malik back in the 90s. Bouncy and happy and silly and not very complicated at all in the very best way.
Not for everyone is Twinkle Khanna’s stiff acting, Amrish Puri’s evil overacting (is it a spoiler to say Amrish Puri is evil? I don’t think so), and an Abbas-Mustan plot that goes from twisty to downright INSANE.
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Okay, I think I can unpack this plot. Shahrukh is trying to run his father’s detective agency and raise money for his mother’s heart surgery. He and his team actually are really good at their jobs, they just tend to go a little too far. He is hired for a different kind of a job, an older man wants him to romance and then break the heart of his daughter. Shahrukh refuses (because he is ultimately decent), but then is convinced when the man explains that he is dying and just wants his daughter (Twinkle) to marry the decent man he has picked out for her instead of holding out for some romantic fantasy. Shahrukh arranges a whole love story for her, a meet cute where he pretends to be a blind singer at a nightclub. Then tells a sob story of how he was blinded and a surgery that could cure him. Asks her help for the surgery, then after he is “cured” declares he is in love with her. And when she shows up at his apartment to surprise him, arranges for her to overhear him laughing with his friends about how he tricked her.
(The fake blind plot also lets us have this really complicated choreography where Shahrukh is always pointing at Twinkle but never looking towards her as they move through a multi-layer set.)
This is actually my favorite part of the movie, a long looooooooooooong perfect spoof of the usual ridiculous love story in these movies. And it has so many great little jokes, like Shahrukh’s monologue about how he lost his eyes (short answer: saving a cat). What might ruin it for other people, is that it swings from crazy comedy to sincere in a very odd way, as Shahrukh’s character truly does fall in love with Twinkle. Or what might ruin it for other people is that the comedy gets really really broad, for instance Jonny Lever as a doctor transplanting an owl’s eyes into Shahrukh. Or what might ruin it for other people is that we never actually get closure on the whole reasoning behind this plot. Doesn’t bother me, but I can acknowledge the flaws.
That plot ends and we move neatly on to another. Shahrukh and his team are hired to rescue a kidnapped little girl. She is chubby and bossy, which is played for laughs in the best way. The joke isn’t that she is “fat”, the joke is that “little girl” makes you picture an angelic tiny creature and the reality is different from the image. Later in the film (skipping a head a bit) she will be in danger and Shahrukh and everyone reacts appropriate, she may be chubby but she is still just an innocent little kid.
Shahrukh has to go out of town to pay off the kidnappers, and at the airport he gets mixed up with a stranger who dies. Through a series of misunderstandings, he is mistaken for the dead stranger, a secret agent. He arrives and is mistaken again, this time for the out of town agent brought in by the Bad Guys. He misunderstands all the interactions as being about the kidnapping, or something else in his life. For instance, Twinkle! Who has reappeared! She is a secret agent for reals, Shahrukh was hired by Bad Guys who wanted…..something. To distract her? Anyway, that’s the real reason he had to break her heart. Now he has reappeared, she is mad at him for their romance and because she thinks he is working for Bad Amrish Puri.
(This song has so many delights in it, but I think the best might be Amrish Puri and his dopey reaction shots.)
And then, the most interesting part of the movie to me, in the middle of a funny misunderstanding ridden chase scene, Shahrukh mentions something about the dead stranger at the airport and Twinkle gets upset and says, that was her brother. And Shahrukh in less than a second changes from “funny mugging Shahrukh” to “sincere naked emotion too real to feel like acting” Shahrukh as he reaches out to comfort her. That version of Shahrukh doesn’t return until the very end of the film, but I find it so interesting from a technical side of things to watch the way he can change his acting style so dramatically and so rapidly.
And then the movie twists again! We went from the love story spoof, to the wacky complicated misunderstanding on top of misunderstanding spoof, and now we are suddenly totally serious. The chubby funny bossy little girl is kidnapped a second time, this time by the Bad Guys whose big plan (it turns out) is to assassinate a female politician. Twist! They were hired by her evil husband! And Second Twist! They want Shahrukh to pull the trigger or else they will kill the little girl who, now that she is in real danger, is also treated seriously.
We end with a massive action scene that swings wildly between serious and not serious, and then round it out with a tag in which Shahrukh and Twinkle have sex in his hidden bed in his wacky office. Now that I think about that tag, you know what this movie is most like? A Marx Brothers film! The Marx Brothers lived on taking a serious dramatic story and inserting chaos into it. That’s kind of what this movie is, a serious Abbas-Mustan twisty mystery drama, but with Shahrukh and his gang inserting chaos. And it works best when that is what it is, the fake-romance, and then the middle section with Shahrukh not realizing all the misunderstandings around him, that’s golden. It’s the serious bits, which I enjoy a lot as a Shahrukh fan, that kind of spoil the film. The agent of chaos can’t slip up and suddenly become an agent of sincerity.