Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Aaja Nachle: The Review

Sania sees Madhuri dance back on the screens on opening weekend

I saw Aaja Nachle last weekend, but it's hard to succinctly say how I feel, possibly because I'm not quite sure. But I'll offer some disjointed thoughts nonetheless..

The film, much like most Bollywood fare nowadays, requires a healthy suspension of disbelief on part of the viewer. Not that's necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. Some of my favorite Bollywood movies ever are built on fantasy - it's what adds to the charm.

My main problems with the film lay with the construction of the story. It's a classic tale of an NRI who comes back to India, bringing culture and sanksriti back to the town. Nothing new or exciting.

But the screenplay didn't really explore any of the threads it started - whether it be Dia's (Madhuri) old love interest, Dia's potential new love interest, Dia's family, her relationship with the estranged townspeople, or even what happens after she succeeds with her challenge.

Everything was resolved without protracted examination, and was tied nicely with a big red bow. The movie wasn't super emotional, the relationships that were shown were a bit shallow - mere cardboard cutouts.

But Madhuri is a delight to watch. She's very self assured and you almost feel as though she walked into the sets of the movie like she owns the place.

In the presence of anyone else, this movie would have fallen flat on its face. But you feel satisfied even after leaving the theater because your adrenaline is pumping after having seen her dance, and smile and offer encouragement to others. It's almost as if she's patting you on the head and saying it'll be okay, there can still be glimmers of joy in Bollywood.

Akshaye Khana is cute and it was nice to see him on screen again. Kunal - smoking hot. Konkona did great in the acting department, but her role was very much a caricature.

The Laila Majnu tale at the end of the film is lovely and riveting - you could hear a pin drop in the theater while it was going on (except for the jaanwar baccha munching popcorn behind me - a story for another time).

Even though you're not quite convinced about the struggle in the movie, the first 15 minutes and last 30 minutes make it all paisa vasool. Stay through the end of the credits for some cute vignettes.

Also:

13 comments:

Sidekick said...

Sania, I’m hoping to see the film this weekend. Your recco of NB’s Madhuri special was spot on and so I fully expect to enjoy watching the dancing queen in action :)

Also to bring the AN/NB discussion to a more appropriate post: Joules, it’s all a matter of taste so I’m happy to discuss dissenting view points ---- plus unlike Sania I’m not a Vaibhavi enthusiast (I like her work but I’m not a die hard fan!), only a Madz one :P .

I liked the AN title track dance (based on the NB viewing only). I thought the choreography was a lot more classical than the usual Saroj Khan stuff. I also like the song itself very much, so I guess that helped.

Most of the superhit saroj-madhuri numbers were of the sensual, bordering on the raunchy type: Ek-do-teen, dhak dhak, the sailaab song, choli ke peeche. Even the mujra stuff in the Rekha version of Umrao Jaan seemed to me to feature a lot of Rekha’s heaving bosom --- but given that UJ was a courtesan pleasing her lustful male customers that worked ;) . But I’m drawing heavily fm memory so I could be wrong about UJ.

I like a lot of Vaibhaivi’s work – kajra re and crazy kiya re are fine but seem to play to the gallery. I thought the AN title track was aesthetically pleasing and also different in that respect – not necessarily pandering to front benchers.

Aspi said...

Sania, I'm digging your three minute review (except for the Kunal "Hot" Kapoor part). And its great to see a post from you!

Anonymous said...

i have seen this review elsewhere , exactly in the same wording ... its a copy or donno.. the same writer at both places

anu g said...

Anon, dont worry,even i thought it sounded familiar until I realised that Sania wrote it as a comment under Saritha's VOI review. Aspi thought it deserved to be on his headlines, and posted it here.Aspi, answering on ur behalf!

Joules said...

sidekick, I was'nt talking about Rekha's dance in Umrao Jaan - sorry if my comments caused that impression.

Rekha is such a non-dancer that Muzzaffar Ali focussed the camera more on her expressions and her assets.

In NB2 Saroj K. got up to show one of the contestants how it is done and the delight for me was that I did not expect her to dance so well. It's like when you see Ganesh Acharya you dont expect him to be so flexible and dance well.

Regarding Madz better numbers I was not necessarily talking about her Saroj K. dances but just her dances in general. (K. Sera Sera, any of the devdas numbers). I can rememeber my trips to India where little kids to teenager cousins would bore me with some Madhuri dance or other whether it is 'didi tera dewar deewana' or 'dola re dola'. I dont see the same with Aaja Nachle songs.

Ofcourse, this is coming from someone who has never liked Ms. Dixit too much so take it with a grain of salt.

Saritha said...

Saroj's 'Dil cheez kya hai' came as a surprise to me on NB2,esp I didn't expect her body to move at all.Her kamar moved half-an-inch to one side and still that made an impact.

As for AN,Iam looking forward to the Laila-Majnu act,if not anything else,most of the critics,agreed to one thing-last 30 mins are worth it.

Saritha said...

Besides Madhuri's sensual numbers,Saroj also choreographed 'Mera Piya Ghar aaya' and 'chane ke keth mein'.They were simple steps but with MD they turned into national craze.

Times have changed,we've moved on,so I don't know even,if Saroj was given AN,she would have done anything splendid to sweep the whole country with the dance craze.Not with the theater background,I believe.Vaibhavi seems to have done just OK with this movie(from the promos) compared to her earlier work.Like many of you,I liked her Kajra re.

Since I like Madhuri a lot,I am going to enjoy the dances,anyway:D

Aspi said...

anon, like anu g said: I asked Sania if we could post it, she said yes but ran out of time to extend it so we posted it anyway.

anu g said...

Aspi, I can see u wriggling ur finger at me and saying 'Hey, 'I' was supposed to clarify about Sania's comment to Anon'!Sorry, I just wanted to reassure myself that my memory is still not-so-bad:).

Aspi said...

anu g, not at all. I like it when you take up my cause :)

Sidekick said...

joules, aah... now i'm understanding, sorry i was dense :). clearly the response to the music and the dancing has been quite thanda. in fact i almost gave the music a miss based on reviews until aspi gave it a thumbs up. sania, saritha and i may well be the only 3 who enjoy the AN dancing :P .

Aspi said...

You shouldn't be listening to me much - I get entertained easily. But I try my best to explain why I liked something so you can kind of-sort of decided for yourself.

Sidekick said...

I only just got home fm watching this and have to inflict on you my somewhat long winded impressions with my head whirling with Madz magic :)

Surprise, surprise - I liked this film! Granted my threshold for acceptance was low – I was ready to see Madhuri sing (err… lip sync!) , dance and dazzle. And dazzled I was despite the fact that expectations frequently have a way of outdistancing reality. I really don’t think any of today’s leading ladies have that magnetic quality that Madz does – of course I’m a fan :P.

The movie itself was Chak De like ---- a gritty, disgraced underdog protagonist taking on a team of misfits to tackle a seemingly insurmountable task. But as much I enjoyed watching Madz, this film is never even close to being as engaging as Chak De and that puzzled me. AN has the advantage of a competent, experienced ensemble cast that Chak De didn’t. I don’t believe Jaideep Sahni who wrote both films miraculously lost his touch --- so why?

My theory ---I have one for everything :) --- is that this film suffered fm the burden of being Madhuri’s comeback film. Where Chak De never seemed like a SRK vehicle, everything and everyone in AN seemed to exist in service of Madhuri’s character Dia. Chak De was the story of the 16 young misfit hockey players who come into their own with the aid of SRK’s character. In AN, Dia is the center piece and the supporting players’ back stories are stitched into it. They conveniently and neatly end when their purpose to Dia’s story ends, giving the ensemble (despite terrific performances fm Ravir Shorey and Vinay Pathak and competent ones fm everyone else) a cardboard cutout-like feel. Would AN have played out differently if it had followed some other Madhuri comeback movie? There is no way to know, but I have a feeling it might have been less determinedly The Madhuri show.

For any Madz fan, this is one for the big screen. She is simply stunning in the dance sequences and as Sania said it is hard to look away. The blue and black outfit in the title track at the start, a white one in the title track again at the end and a white anarkali outfit in O Re Piya are all standouts.

Kunal and Konkana were cute together ---- I wasn’t sure how the jodi would fare. Sania, I agree that Kunal was totally hot --- esp. as Kaiz the Majnu. I think they cast him just for that segment! The BH conceded that Kunal may be hot but how will we know until he gets rid of the hirsute look! I took that as a sign of sour grapes!

I think the movie did drag towards the end and I shifted restlessly in my seat for the last 20 minutes or so. The BH felt we shd have been gone a whole hour earlier at least ---- you could say the Madz magic didn’t do that much for him :)