I should also point out a few exciting non-Hindi films recently added to Heera. Barely two months after their theatrical releases, the Bengali movie Dhananjoy and the Telugu films Arjun Reddy and Nene Raju Nene Mantri are all available for streaming on Heera. You can find my list of the hundreds of Hindi movies on Heera here.
For the first two hours, All The Best is a tolerable if uninspired slapstick comedy. But, due to the movie’s racist final scene, it’s not worth watching.
The movie focuses on aspiring rock star Vir (Fardeen Khan), who lives off of the largess of his globe-trotting step-brother, Dharam (Sanjay Dutt). In order to get a larger monthly allowance from Dharam, Vir tells his brother that his girlfriend, Vidya (Mugdha Godse), is actually his wife.
Since the two brothers rarely see each other, the lie goes unchallenged until Dharam lands in town for a layover on his way to the small African country of Lesotho. The layover turns into an extended stay when the country experiences a military coup.
Vir turns to his best friend, Prem (Ajay Devgan), for help. Since this is a comedy, all of Prem’s ideas to deceive Dharam make things worse, especially when Dharam mistakes Prem’s wife, Jhanvi (Bipasha Basu), for Vir’s pretend wife, Vidya.
The bulk of the humor centers on mistaken identities and the friends’ attempts to keep the truth from hot-tempered Dharam. Basu and Ashwini Kalsekar, who plays Vir’s maid, Mary, are the most successful at generating laughs.
But All The Best falls back on the same cliche seen in many recent Bollywood comedies: gangsters. If one were to form an impression of modern India based solely on Hindi cinema, India would seem as overrun with gangsters as Chicago was in the 1920s, only with the gangsters more inept and less threatening than their American predecessors.
The most pathetically unfunny of the bunch is Topu (Johny Lever), the mute gang leader. He communicates with his lackeys by banging a spoon against a glass, as though he were trying to get a newly-married couple to kiss at their wedding reception. It’s the stupidest gimmick since the mute villain in Karzzzz, who communicated via a musical keypad on his wrist.
Such lame gimmicks might be forgivable, if not for the movie’s final scene, involving several characters from Lesotho. They speak in something that’s supposed to sound like Swahili, even though Swahili isn’t an official language of Lesotho. I can’t prove it, but I’m guessing the filmmakers didn’t spring to hire an actual Swahili translator, and that the words are just gibberish that’s supposed to sound “African.” [Update: A kind Access Bollywood reader, Samuel, let me know that the language is in fact Swahili.]
If that weren’t insulting enough, three of the characters are Indian actors — including Bipasha Basu — in blackface make up. Coming just a few weeks after American musician Harry Connick Jr. took an Australian comedy troupe to task for the same offense, All The Best‘s racist attempt at humor comes off as particularly crude.
For Indian cinema to be taken seriously in the rest of the world, it needs to drop these outdated, racist jokes. Bollywood’s top stars need to lead the way. Bipasha Basu should have refused to perform the scene in blackface, just as Akshay Kumar should’ve said no to his blackface scene in Kambakkht Ishq.
I decided to select the absolute worst movie of the year from films that I awarded zero stars when I reviewed them. Abhishek Bachchan starred in two of those movies: Sarkar Raj and Drona. I was tempted to give the dubious honor to Love Story 2050, if only because it suggested that we’ll all still be playing the Xbox 360 forty years from now.
But the worst movie of the year had to be the one that was most painful to watch, the one that wasn’t bad in a funny way (like Sarkar Raj, Drona and Love Story 2050), but was just bad. Based on those criteria, the Worst Bollywood Film of 2008 is Golmaal Returns. No other movie approached its level of immaturity and ineptitude. Everything about it was annoying, and if I hadn’t been reviewing it, I would’ve walked out of the theater after thirty minutes.
Congratulations, Golmaal Returns. May you never return again.
It’s no accident why Karzzzz is so bad. Himesh Reshammiya is both the film’s star and its music director, so the movie feels like a series of music videos. The plot, in which rock star Monty (Reshammiya) discovers he was murdered in a past life, contains so many extra characters and side plots that it’s hard to keep track of what’s really important — like, who is this bald villain with a musical bionic arm?
No Rating (violence); 153 minutes
This review originally appeared on napersun.com on October 21, 2008