This is the most entertaining movie I have seen since Andrew Stanton’s WALL•E.
An added bonus on the DVD is the director’s commentary. A choreographer, Farah Khan starts with an apology that she is recording the commentary from bed since she’s “7 or 8 months pregnant.” She then provides gossipy details of the production and in the process provides insight into the inner workings of the Indian film industry and all it outsized egos and standard human pettiness.
Captured in this movie is the Indian fascination with the the movie business along with a healthy willingness to poke fun at itself. The movie makes frequent references to real Indian film stars and, in fact, includes a ton of them in the film in many walk-on or — and this makes it Bollywood — song and dance numbers. Even the iconic Amitabh Bachchan makes a brief appearance.
Oh yes, the story: it’s about the movie business, jealousy, reincarnation, murder, revenge, and lots of singing and dancing. India’s movie business from the 1970’s on is the backdrop. Spread throughout are fun song and dance numbers, several of which incorporate carefully interpolated performances of past actors courtesy of careful CGI work.
I missed many of the references to past films but that doesn’t detract, there’s so much going on here. Color, photography, and costumes are sumptuous. There are some scenes and sets that are amazing. My favorite: entry into a famous movie studio compound 30 years after it burned. Since the first half of the movie takes place in this deliriously Holloywoodish world of backlots and myriads of sets and technicians, seeing an entire huge set after a major fire and 30 years of neglect is downright spooky. Very impressive visually.
Finally, the stars: versatile Shahrukh Khan dances, charms, mimes, weeps, emotes, and mugs his way through another great performance. He has not the slightest problem with poking fun at himself. I’m amazed again that Khan is the same actor who played the serious main role in Santosh Sivan’s ASOKA.
Then there is female lead Deepika Padukone. A former model, the director in the DVD commentary describes how it took time for her to learn and speak dialog and dancing. And what a job she does communicating the central female role in the film without becoming cloying, clownish, overly sentimental, or weepy. She’s gorgeous and she can dance, too.
In summary, this film is just a lot of fun. It’s great to look at, the musical numbers are great, and it’s melodramatic enough to keep you interested throughout.
My only complaint with this DVD: It’s published by a company named Eros International. While the image and sound quality are far superior to other Eros DVD’s I’ve rented, a translucent EROS logo often appears annoyingly in the upper left hand corner of the screen.
Review copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)