Two new Hindi movies debut in the Chicago area this weekend, though in a limited number of theaters. Red Alert: The War Within stars Sunil Shetty as a farmer driven by poverty to work for a militant communist organization. It opens at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles on Friday, July 7.
The second new release is Milenge Milenge, a romantic comedy starring Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor that’s been in production since 2004. It opens at the Golf Glen 5 and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. Milenge Milenge has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.
Other Indian movies showing near Chicago include the Rain Man remake Alexander The Great (Malayalam) and Bheemili Kabaddi Jatu (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5 and Raavanan (Tamil) and Vedam (Telugu) at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.
Rather than a cohesive movie, De Dana Dan is a muddle of sideplots with no connecting thread. As a result, the talents of Bollywood’s comedy all-stars are squandered in an unsatisfying waste of two hours and forty-five minutes.
De Dana Dan gets off to a bad start for those of us who don’t understand Hindi, as Akshay Kumar’s opening narration isn’t subtitled in English. What I was able to work out is that Kumar’s character, Nitin, works as an a kind of indentured servant for the overbearing Kuljeet (Archana Puran Singh). Nitin’s buddy, Ram (Sunil Shetty), is likewise paying off debts by working as a delivery man.
Nitin’s girlfriend, Anjali (Katrina Kaif), and Ram’s girlfriend, Manpreet (Sameera Reddy), are sick of waiting for their guys to raise enough cash to marry them. So Nitin and Ram concoct a scheme to kidnap Kuljeet’s beloved dog and demand a ransom for his return. Of course, things don’t go as planned.
Meanwhile, a conman named Chadda (Paresh Rawal) tries to arrange a marriage between his son, Nonny (played by Chunky Pandey, who’s only 12 years younger than Rawal), and Anjali. Chadda plans to use her dowry money to pay off his debts. When Anjali lies to Nonny that she’s pregnant with someone else’s child, the conmen target Manpreet and her family instead.
The rest of the movie contains seemingly infinite cases of mistaken identity among the innumerable characters, some of whom — like Neha Dhupia’s dancer/thief — exist only to add to the confusion, not to further the plot. Granted, what passes for plot in De Dana Dan is little more than characters running, shouting, hiding from each other and falling on each other in compromising positions.
De Dana Dan is convoluted and irritating, rather than complex and interesting, and the final product is boring and empty. The romances between the penniless guys and their wealthy girlfriends feel hollow, since both couples are prepared to break up if the dog-napping scheme fails.
Paresh Rawal does his best as the movie’s lead actor (despite Kumar’s and Kaif’s prominence on the movie posters), but there’s ultimately no one to root for in this film.
The movie also contributes to a distressing trend I’ve written about before: the seeming acceptability of violence against women in Hindi cinema. Early in De Dana Dan, Anjali’s father slaps her hard enough to knock her over. Then he slaps her mother and threatens to break their legs if they defy him.
As the movie progresses, Anjali’s father assumes a supposedly comic role, accidentally groping a woman and chasing after the wrong guy. But how can the audience think him funny when he’s been established as an abusive husband and father?
I accept that physical punishment within families could be viewed differently in India than it is in The United States (although spanking your toddler and slapping your adult daughter’s face are on opposite ends of the corporal punishment spectrum). But I can’t imagine that abuse is so widely accepted that it’s considered funny.
One new Hindi movie hits Chicago area theaters in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. De Dana Dan stars Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty as a pair of loafers who concoct a get-rich-quick scheme to appease their girlfriends, played by Katrina Kaif and Sameera Reddy. Earlier this year, a reporter for Slate wrote about working as an extra for a day on the set of De Dana Dan.
Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area include the English language film Rockin’ Meera, opening on Thursday, November 26 at the Golf Glen 5. Also opening on Thursday is the Telugu movie Arya 2 at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.