There have been a few occasions in the history of India when the entire future of our great nation has hung precariously, and then toppled over to the wrong side. Like the time centuries ago when both the British and the French wanted to stake their claim on our land. But then Le République lost, dooming us into becoming tea and rusk eating philistines when we could have been la wine and la cheese connoisseurs instead. Or, when Pandit Ravi Shankar discovered the Beatles, brought them to India and turned them into hippies swaying to
ganja tokes sitar notes. The wily fox then, instead of beseeching the Liverpool Lads to stay on and absorb our culture, decamped with them to the Evil West. Imagine the possibilities had the Beatles chosen to forgo Notting Hill for Pali Hill, and become Bollywood music directors instead – the best heroines of the times, from Asha Parekh to Madhuri Dixit, might have swayed their wide hips to the tunes of Lennon-McCartney instead of Laxmikant-McPyarelal.
Of course, there have been other times when a national tragedy was so catastrophic that even God sought to redress the wrong He had instigated. One such calamity had occurred a couple of years ago on the sidelines of a major awards function when a Biiiiiig Star (who is not called Raj or Rahul in real life) exchanged blows with a film-director-husband of a choreographer-turned-film-director. That unfortunate episode had instantly transformed a Karan-Arjun-type blood-bond into a Godfather-like feud where the two parties (including their spouses, friends, servants etc.) exchanged venomous barbs like – ‘His six-pack has six times more acting talent than the rest of his body parts combined’ and ‘No one has ever walked out of a movie theatre unimpressed with his film because, well, no one went inside in the first place’ in gossip magazines.
Well, you can imagine the ramifications the ShahRukh Khan – Shirish Kunder War sought to wreak on Bollywood, nay the entire nation. Hostility between them could mean only one thing – that the country was now doomed to a protracted phase of collaboration between Kunder’s wife Farah Khan and their other favourite Akshay Kumar. Remember Tees Maar Khan? (Of course you do. No one ever forgets their first prostrate / gynae exam) What if that was just the tip of the iceberg, the start of a string of sequels, the next being Untees Maar Khan? Then Atthais Maar Khan, then Sattais…? By the time we would have hit Shoonya…
Such disaster, and that too so soon after India had just eradicated Polio and Kamaal R Khan!
Anyway, like I said, God the Merciful slapped Himself into His senses, and SRK and SK kissed and made up. Farah Khan immediately booted Akshay Kumar out of her psychedelic dance floor and signed back ShahRukh instead. And, so, here we are, a few short months later, with a brand new film called Happy New Year. Scheduled to be prematurely ejaculated two whole months before New Year.
The dazzling promos are all over YouTube. Clearly, the film is a remake of Sholay, though no one is saying the obvious in as many words. The trailer is absolutely unfunny, because it would be laughable to make a funny one about an unfunny subject – the revenge of a man who has lost everything.
Here is the plot –
Thakur Baldev Singh, known as BS (played by SRK) has lost two things most essential to live the life of a normal man. No, not arms, for those can be easily replaced with prosthetics in the 21st century. BS has lost much more than mere limbs – he has lost his Looks and his Senses. Understandably, he is super pissed about it, and so he tries to keep his mind (whatever little of it is still functioning) occupied by working on his 8-pack, streaking his hair blond, crinkling his forehead, and dancing like Miley Cyrus. Classic symptoms of a mid-life crisis, even though BS is no more than 32 years old in this film.
One day, Daku Gabbar Singh (or GS, played by Jackie Shroff, f/o Tiger Shroff) lands into BS’s village in his helicopter, and walks around in slow motion wearing a very expensive suit and a very smug smile, as if he owned the place. Ramgarh, thanks to corrupt ex-dacoits-turned-real-estate-developers like GS, has transformed into something that looks like Macau (it’s a small town in South Africa) now, where poor villagers are still forced to go and deposit their hard earned cash at the feet of the Roulette and Blackjack dealers sitting inside casinos built over flattened ravines. Obviously, no one is happy to lose money, despite the momentary joy one derives in anticipating that, maybe this time, their luck will change and the dealer will not only return them all their money, but also give them some more by way of goodwill (and interest). Alas, that is never to be.
BS, devastated to see the incessant looting of his people, decides enough is enough. He must destroy GS’s Evil Empire. The only way to do so is by dancing his way into Senior-Tiger’s den, a la Mehbooba-Mehbooba in the original, and destroy it from within. Sadly, since Helenji has now retired, BS decides to do so himself (after all, he does know how to dance like Miley). He hires two sidekicks in his battle against GS. (Remember, he can’t do ALL of it himself – he has lost his Looks and his Senses, plus he has just spent thousands getting that bleached blond streak too). Enter Jai and Veeru, played by Abhishek Bachchan and Sonu Sood, two actors who have honed their skills over decades to play Sidekicks to perfection. Both are masters of serious and comedy, even though they are most comfortable in scenes that require acting like baboons. (No offence meant to any member of the ape family)
Then there is Basanti (played by Deepika Padukone), the key motivator for BS, Jai, Veeru etc to rise and shine each morning. After Chennai Express, Finding Fanny and now Happy New Year, men all over India are bound to fall in love with her delightfully weird accent again, almost as much as they would want to take her Cleavage (OMG!!) home to meet their mothers for ashirwad. As everyone knows, endless tales (both on Twitter and in newspapers) have been written about the Beauty and her Bust.
The film also stars Boman Irani, who plays either Ramu Kaka or Dhanno the horse, it is not absolutely clear which. Plus, even though absent from the trailers, it is assumed that the film also has Kirron Kher because, let’s face it, a loud Punjabi Woman is a must in every movie script these days.
Together, Sensible BS and his team wage a war over Evil GS. They must use every tool in the Bollywood arsenal in order to win this fight – song and dance, emotions, song and dance, music, song and dance, comedy, song and dance, dazzling locales, song and dance, slow motion walks towards the camera, song and dance, and song and dance.
So, who wins in the end? Your guess is as good as mine. Though one thing is clear. Now that Farah, Shirish, their triplets, her brother Sajid, and SRK are one big happy family again, Happy New Year is bound to make more money at the box office in its first weekend than all of Africa makes in a year.
And deservedly so, too.