January 16, 2009 12:49:17 pm
Director: Nikhil Advani
Sadsack Sidhu lives in Chandni Chowk,peels potatoes for a living,and prays to Ganapati Bappa to release him from his daily drudge. And then one day,everything changes : adventure beckons,and Sidhu takes off to China.
Smart basis for a film,because Akshay Kumar’s humble Old Delhi roots and his travels to Oriental hot spots where he picked up his killer karate moves,is part of urban legend. But instead of mining his past experiences,the script is forced into being a vehicle for its star,not the story,so what you get is an overlong Akshayrama,which perks up only in fits and starts,and is never more than mildly entertaining in its best moments.
‘Chandni Chowk To China’ is more a patchily-executed combo of a desi ‘Kung Fu Panda’,and ‘Karate Kid’,than an exhilarating transcontinental journey. It’s spiked with a Manmohan Desai-ish lost-and-found side plot. It also lifts from chop-suckey Hong Kong clunkers where the hero mows down a million bad guys,sending them flying through the air in familiar choreographed arcs. Where is this film,a lax mish-mash of genres and styles,coming from?
In his zeal to prove that he can do more than being a buffoon,Akshay gets to cry,as well as laugh,and fight and dance and sing,occasionally letting in his leading lady (Deepika,in a double role),who is only required to dress in Mandarin collars,and kick butt (as the bad girl),and whip out a photo of her missing father,and shed a few tears (as the good one). Ranvir Shorey,who’s called Chopstick,roams around looking for something to do,and the Chinese characters,including chief villain Hojo (Gordon Liu) who gets his jollies by beheading people,are mere ciphers.
The result is a classic case of missed opportunities. For Akshay,who’s been busting the box office with his gormless local yokel acts,this mega-budget,actually-shot-on-location-in-China,backed-by-a-Hollywood-giant film would have been the start of a glorious new year. For director Nikhil Advani,it would have been the chance to forget his last disastrous outing ‘Salaam-e-Ishq’. And for producers Warner Bros,a signal to amp up its India plans,as well open doors to other American studios.
Right in the beginning,a minor character asks Sidhu : are you stupid? He nods. That’s prescience.
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