Why “Happy New Year” Is Making Me Unhappy

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And so, this Diwali saw the release of yet another Goliath of a movie, Happy New Year. The “muhoorat” (timing) couldn’t have been any better. It was the ultimate festive season. People in India never shy away from spending a few extra bucks on Diwali. Hell, most of us take pride in lavish expenditures.

With a mood so “sublime”, the market conditions so perfect, it was only a matter of time before Happy New Year set the numbers rolling and created jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring records at the box-office. And that is exactly what the movie has done so far. Happy New Year has set a new record on its opening day itself. It has minted a jaw-dropping 44 crore. Meanwhile, the poor makers of Haider have earned a grand total of 58.5 crore. They should probably learn a trick or too from the makers of Happy New Year, as even after making a superb movie like Haider, they failed to make money.

Farah Khan and company, you see, are so loyal to their audience that they never fail to deliver on their promises. Apparently the only promise they ever made was to entertain. Petty things like a plausible storyline, a decent script, acting upper-limits (as many soldiers in Farah’s army are bound to “overact”, every time) or anything remotely logical, have never made it big on her list. Farah Khan’s movies are an epitome of “consistency”. No matter what the movie name reads, you can be sure who the leading actor will be and what the storyline has to offer.

There are two kinds of movies: those which keep you guessing right from the time its trailer is released to the very end of the movie. And those whose trailer is enough to grasp what the movie has to offer. Happy New Year is by and large, a movie from the second genre. To keep the audience in uncertainty, in a state of limbo is not what Farah Khan is fond of.

A quick round up for the lost souls. Charlie (SRK) puts together one hell of a team to avenge his father’s (Anupam Kher) death from Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff). Grover runs a safety lockers’ business and now that he will be shielding an expensive diamond at the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai, Charlie seeks to steal it. Coincidently, the day the diamond is to arrive at the hotel, a dance competition is scheduled at the same hotel. Charlie’s group can steal, but not dance. The team (Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Boman Irani and Vivaan Shah) takes the help of a bar dancer Mohini (Deepika Padukone) to learn dancing while making their way to the vault. How and what happens is left for people with the highest tolerance levels to discover. After all why should just one guy feel the pain of watching Happy New Year?

Now, I am not an SRK-basher. I loved him in Swades and Chak De India. But, when I see an actor of his calibre doing what he did in Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express and now Happy New Year, I lose all faith on the Indian cinema. Are we Indians, such a frustrated lot, that the only way we can make ourselves feel better is by watching a “desi superman” beat the pulp out of bad guys in the most impossible, gravity defying and improbable ways? One punch sends off twenty baddies twenty feet away in twenty directions. Have we, as audience, lost all sense and taste? Why else would movies like Kick, Singham, Chennai Express be on the topper’s list of highest grossing Bollywood movies?

A movie like Bang Bang earns 178 crores nationwide. Really? Was that really worth a 178 crore rupees? Frankly the only life lesson I got from the movie was to jump off buildings and mountains when in a sticky spot. What happens after jumping off multi-storey buildings is a different matter. And frankly one shouldn’t think of such details. At least that is what Bang Bang teaches us. The protagonist jumps of the tallest of buildings and highest of mountains, with no protective kit whatsoever, no parachute; but somehow lands safely every time and that too in a different nation. Lord save the poor laws of physics! Apparently Rohit Shetty’s “Laws of Anti-Physics” have gotten over the Indian audience.

Some people say that these so called “100+ crore films” are high on entertainment. But wasn’t Rang De Basanti entertaining and awesome at the same time? Munna Bhai MBBS was funny, more or less practical and entertaining at the same time. Queen was an awesome movie and high on entertainment as well. Bhaag Milka Bhaag, Vicky Donor, Raanjhanaa were beautiful movies. But none of them find themselves on the topper’s list of Bollywood earners. 3 Idiots is the only exception here.

Some actors feel that it is good these movies are earning so much, as they are financially more secure and can venture into more “artistic” movies. But when was the last time Shahrukh Khan did a sensible film? When has Salman Khan ever done a sensible movie? Ajay Devgan of Zakhm and Legend of Bhagat Singh fame has been consistently giving blockbusters off late. But he too hasn’t acted so much in his last few films as he has fought hard with baddies.

We are losing good actors to bad movies and if we do not grow up as an audience, this phenomenon would continue to surface. Till the time sense comes back to the people’s mind, “senseless” movies will continue to rule the roost; a “Happy New Year” will continue to break records, while a “Paan Singh Tomar” or a “Lunchbox” will go for a toss. Till the time that glorious day arrives when “sense” once again finds place in our movies, Lord save Indian cinema!

Rizwanur Rahman

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