Dir: Anees Bazmee
Star: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor

Two families are each keen to get their offspring married: Dr. Ghungroo and his nephew Rajiv (Kumar); Uday (Patekar) and his sister Sanjana (Kaif). It seems like an ideal match, except that the latter clan are actually notorious gangsters, feared throughout the territory. When Dr. Ghungroo discovers the truth about the bride-to-be, the engagement is cancelled, even though the couple are very much in love. Pleadings on their behalf do have some effect: he says that the marriage can go ahead, but only if Uday and his associate Majnu (Kapoor) abandon their life of crime, in favour of honest professions. Knowing there's no chance of that happening without some "encouragement", Rajiv and Sanjana start work on elaborate plans to turn Uday into a movie star and Majnu into a successful artist, professions for which each man has a fondness. Unfortunately, the process is made a lot harder, since this fondness is not accompanied by any actual talent.

One of the top ten grossing films in Bollywood history, the first half is really tedious. It takes way longer than necessary to set things up, including a pointless jaunt to Sun City in South Africa, whose sole purpose must have been some kind of tax break. After the interval [yes, it's that long!], things perk up enormously, with the arrival of gangster overlord, RDX. I initially thought this was going to be an American rapper - see Snoop Dogg's cameo in Singh is Kinng - but it turns out to be the Bollywood version of Clint Eastwood, the marvellous Feroz Khan (sadly, his last screen role, as he died of cancer in early 2009). The second-half has a bunch of fun stuff: the criminals try out their new careers; there's a funeral with a miraculous resurrection, after RDX's son is shot and pronounced dead by Dr. Ghungroo (not a very good physician); and a rousing finale in a house teetering over a precipitous drop. That exemplifies an enjoyable sense of lunacy, when the movie is at its best. However, that side of things is way over-stretched, and this is a case of a very good 90-minute film, trapped inside a lumbering 150-minute behemoth.

[January 2010]

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