Sunday, December 23, 2007

Most Welcoming

About two years back, Anees Bazmee virtually rose from the dead to give us a surprise hit in the form of No Entry. Taking us back into the David Dhawan-esque comedy of the 90s and resurrecting the comic streak in a fine Anil Kapoor, the film was lapped up by the audiences and critics alike. Now Bazmee returns with the much-publicized Welcome, his take on the 1999 Hugh Grant starrer Mickey Blue Eyes. Interestingly, the film also has shades of another recent Mallika Sherawat release, Shaadi Se Pehle (opposite Akshaye Khanna).

After feeling somewhat bombarded by the hype and publicity surrounding the film, I was a little hesitant that high expectations may result in sore disappointment. In fact, as the first 15 to 20 minutes passed in front of me and very few laughs were had, that sinking feel began to make its present felt. Why did the jokes seem so contrite? Could the ever-so-reliable Akshay Kumar/Paresh Rawal team truly be running out of steam? Maybe director Bazmee was so keen on repeating his previous success that he got carried away this time around.


Suddenly, along came a scene where Anil literally stops traffic to...paint. I sat up and took notice of a rather humorous exchange between Anil and Akshay, only for almost everything that followed to turn downright hilarious. At one point, I almost wondered if I was watching two entirely different films.

I'll not delve into the plot itself, as most of it is made available through the previews, and the twists are worth seeing for yourself. All one can say is God Bless Nana Patekar. And the aforementioned Kapoor. Both Nana and Anil are what make Welcome everything that it is. Their inane gangsters are probably the most likable characters in the entire film, and yes, they are the same people who kill for a living and ruthlessly force Akshay into an engagement with Katrina. To turn these train-wrecks of people into the more appealing of the lot shows true skill, especially given the fact that they evoke the most thunderous laughter of all. Hats off to Nana, in particular, for playing a character so out of the norm from his usual work and doing so with flying colors. The audience truly lapped up almost his every word and movement.

Of course, both Nana and Anil are ably supported by Akshay and Paresh, both veterans of the "leave-your-brains-behind" humor bracket. Akshay is superb in the first half as the seedha man of principals he portrays, and his shyness around Katrina is both humorous and endearing. Paresh takes his most applauded character to date - that of Baburao from Hera Pheri and mixes him with his stubborn turn in Cheeni Kum. Sadly, both he and Akshay are relegated to the background for a lot of the second half, but since Nana and Anil are quite on top of their game, you don't mind too much.

Katrina looks absolutely stunning, but she is given very little to do other than add the glamor quotient. And after dubbing her own lines in Namastey London and Apne earlier this year, she's back to having her voice dubbed for her. Granted it's the familiar voice that we now associate with the actress, but it would be nice to see her using her own voice after having been around for a couple of years now. Mallika is actually given more meat to show off her funny side, and she does a fair job of it. Although she really is just there as the quintessential sex bomb, and the males around me in the cinema seemed most appreciative.

Feroz Khan is his wacky self. Sometimes one can't but wonder if he is for real, but by now we're used to his queer on-screen persona. Whoever plays his son sure grates on the nerves (even if he is supposed to in the film, at times it's a little unbearable).

If the overall humor and performances lift the films, the length and music drag it down. As said earlier, the film takes its sweet time to pick up. People who rent it on DVD would risk switching it off and missing the revelry that follows once all the characters have been introduced. Also, the last 20 minutes turn into pure Priyadarshan mayhem. And this is not a Priyadarshan film. It gets bad to the extent that you wish you were watching at home with a fast-forward option at hand.

Himesh Reshammiya's music is god awful. The title track is probably the most catchy simply because it graces the TV every five or so minutes on every other Indian channel. Hoth Rasiley
is the most interesting and elevated by Malaika Arora-Khan's sensuous appearance. Much to the audience's dismay, the first song we are subjected to is the agonizing Kola Laka Vellari, for which even Google is yet to come up with an explanation. It's tortuous so much so that I heard groans from various sectors of the screening room. Fortunately, the remainder of the songs are shot keeping the comedy alive, hence it is a riot to watch Anil and Nana's antics in insha'Allah and Kiya Kiya.

Essentially, it's a brainless film with all the wit in the world. It is absolutely incredulous and yet leaves you in hysterics more often than not. Some sluggish pacing at the start and end plus inferior music is not enough reason to not go see the film, and Anil and Nana alone are enough reason to go have a look.

Verdict? Worth your RSVP.


sue said...

im excited to watch, i loved no entry so hopefully this will be just as entertaining!

Reema said...

I just watched this, and my review is the exact opposite of yours. :P

Nicki said...

I like Welcome too. Here's my review on Welcome