There are a number of factors I considered when selecting candidates for Worst Bollywood Movie of 2009. Movies featuring racist jokes, such as Kambakkht Ishq and All the Best, obviously made the list. Incoherent plots brought Wanted and De Dana Dan to my attention, whereas Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna ignored traditional story structure and skipped the climax all together.
Ek — The Power of One deserves mention for its ridiculous title, which translates in English to “One — The Power of One”.
What’s Your Raashee? was easily the biggest disappointment of the year, coming from Ashutosh Gowariker, the filmmaker responsible for great flicks like Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar.
2009 was a particularly bad year for Akshay Kumar. In addition to Kambakkht Ishq and De Dana Dan, he also starred in the bland supernatural thriller 8×10 Tasveer. His two other releases during the calendar year, Blue and Chandni Chowk to China, were fine but forgettable.
Because of their spectacular misunderstanding of human emotions and dubious moral messages, I thought about giving the award to either Kal Kissne Dekhaor London Dreams. Kal Kissne Dekha suggested that one’s value is dependent upon one’s ability to save lives via superhuman powers, while London Dreams excused abhorrent behavior so long as it was committed in pursuit of a selfish goal.
But the ultimate winner had to be the most annoying, most cliché-riddled movie of the year, the worst of the worst. And the winner of Worst Bollywood Movie of 2009 is: Do Knot Disturb.
Do Knot Disturb, which deserves the honor based on its stupid title alone, contains all of the bad clichés that dominate Hindi comedies at the moment. The plot is based on a series of misunderstandings which could be clarified if the characters actually had conversations with one another. The jokes are written based on volume instead of quality, under the mistaken belief that what was funny the first time is even funnier the sixth, seventh and eighth time.
Case in point, the high-pitched screaming match between characters played by Govinda and Ritesh Deshmukh. The characters get spooked by something and start shrieking in girlish voices. The gag isn’t original, but it’s not inherently annoying. But in Do Knot Disturb, the characters scream dialogue at each other in those high-pitched voices for the next ten minutes of the movie.
After one minute, the gag had already stopped being funny. After ten minutes, it was unbearable. I actually walked out of the theater and only convinced myself to return out of a sense of journalistic duty. By virtue of having watched all but one minute of the movie, I can say that Do Knot Disturb is the worst Hindi film of 2009.
Entering their second weeks in theaters are Wake Up Sid, which earned $355,532 in U.S. theaters last weekend, and Do Knot Disturb ($124,573). Both films are showing at the South Barrington 30, Golf Glen 5 and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville.
Among slightly older Bollywood releases, the South Barrington 30 is carrying over Wanted and What’s Your Raashee? ($236,926 total U.S. earnings) for another week, while the Golf Glen 5 will hold over What’s Your Raashee? and Dil Bole Hadippa!.
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include the Telugu films Ganesh at the Golf Glen 5 and Mahatma at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.
The Diwali holiday movie season is in full swing, meaning two more Hindi films will open in Chicago area theaters this weekend.
Wake Up Sid features Ranbir Kapoor as Sid, a directionless guy who meets an attractive, motivated writer played by Konkona Sen Sharma, forcing Sid to rethink his slacker lifestyle.
In Do Knot Disturb, Govinda plays a businessman trying to cover up his affair with a model (Lara Dutta). When he hires his friend (Ritesh Deshmukh) to pose as his girlfriend’s boyfriend, identities get mixed up and comic wackiness ensues.
But those aren’t the only Hindi films showing in the Chicago area this weekend. The Golf Glen 5, Cantera 30 and South Barrington 30 are all carrying over Dil Bole Hadippa! and What’s Your Raashee?, which opened last Friday to disappointing first week earnings of only $169,005 in the United States.
The South Barrington 30 is also carrying over Wanted for a third week. Salman Khan’s latest has earned $332,816 in U.S. theaters so far.
Other Indian movies playing around Chicago include the Telugu film Ganesh and the Malayalam film Loud Speaker, both at the Golf Glen 5.
What if Stanley Kubrick had directed Mannequin? That’s what Ashutosh Gowariker’s venture into the realm of the romantic comedy feels like: an auteur squandering his talents in a genre he’s ill-suited for.
What’s Your Raashee? is a typical masala movie, in spite of being written, produced and directed by Gowariker, who was nominated for an Oscar for Lagaan.
Harman Baweja, stars as Yogesh, a recent MBA grad living in Chicago. He’s summoned home to India under the pretense that his father has had a heart attack.
His dad is actually fine. The family just needs Yogesh to get married and collect his inheritance from his grandpa in order to pay off elder brother Jitu’s debts. An astrologer predicts that Yogesh will get married in ten days time, so he’d better pick a girl quick.
Despite being smart enough to have earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, Yogesh doesn’t try to find another solution to the family’s money problems. He just goes along with their absurd scheme, following their command not to tell Grandpa about it, lest he view Jitu unfavorably.
Yogesh and his Uncle Devu cull the list of prospective marriage candidates to twelve women, one from each zodiac sign. All of the girls are played by Priyanka Chopra. Thankfully, Yogesh acknowledges their similarities in appearance, lest he come across as dimmer than he already seems for having agreed to his family’s moronic plan in the first place.
Priyanka Chopra deserves a lot of credit for even attempting to play twelve characters in the same movie. That she’s able to give them all distinct personalities and physical presences — showcased in a dance scene featuring all twelve characters on screen at the same time — is impressive.
But overall the movie disappoints, falling into the same traps as the worst Bollywood romantic comedies. There are two unnecessary, annoying side plots — one involving Uncle Devu, the other involving some gangsters — that drag the movie out and aren’t resolved in a satisfying way despite the movie’s nearly 210 minute runtime.
The movie is further dragged out by too many songs. Most of the women get their own song and dance numbers, even some of the girls Yogesh is obviously not going to marry. The routine associated with the Libra character, in which Yogesh plays a robot/puppet, is the worst number I’ve ever seen in a movie musical, Hindi or English.
There’s no reason why a romantic comedy, Bollywood or otherwise, should be more than two-and-a-half hours long. What’s Your Raashee? didn’t need to be either. Without the annoying side plots and cumbersome dance numbers, the movie would’ve been an hour shorter, making it an enjoyable if unexceptional movie.
Instead, it’s a movie best suited for watching on DVD, with your finger hovering over the fast forward button.
Ashutosh Gowarikar’s latest film, What’s Your Raashee? (“What’s Your Sign?”) opens in theaters this weekend. It may hold special interest for Chicagoans, since parts of the film were shot in the Windy City, earlier this year.
In What’s Your Raashee?, Harman Baweja plays a guy looking for love among twelve different girls, all played by Priyanka Chopra. (In your face, Eddie Murphy!) Baweja and Chopra previously starred together in the embarrassing Love Story 2050. The runtime for their latest film is listed as 3 hrs. 12 min.
Of last weekend’s two new Hindi films, Dil Bole Hadippa! bested Wanted in U.S. earnings: $351,457 to $217,432. Both films return for a second week at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30. The Cantera 30 is only bringing back Dil Bole Hadippa!.