Minutes before entering the hall to watch this film, a M Night Shyamalanesque thought strikes me: Could there be some sort of subtle iconography involved, a hidden message maybe - in the TITLE itself? Of course, this goosebump inducing revelation - based on the generous assumption that NOBODY else may have broken the code (Take that, Dan Brown) - is a secret no more.
Two of these theories are:
- Could this (symbolism in title, see?) be the final swansong of the writer-filmmaker and the lead actor (I challenge you!), whose careers are fast resembling a magic trick without the final act? (Make the moolah re-appear, I say!)
- Could this film actually be a PREQUEL to the much-loved (or much-maligned, depends) starter of this never-ending banquet of comedy porn called Welcome?
Or wait, could it be both?
Secure with the knowledge that could automatically paralyze 60% of the 'masala- comedy-fun-entertainer-for-beloved-mass-audience' films with the retirement of their kingpin (Mr Bazmee and co), I fasten my seatbelts for the Avatar' of all comedies - Sajid Khan's lingo, not mine. And for the next 2.5 hours, the mystery unravels faster than you can say 'Box Office'...
The truth must eventually be faced- nobody is retiring. Nobody is stopping.
With the conspiracy theories firmly put to rest, this film - apart from being a rehash of Mr Bazmee's 10 previous directorial ventures with different actors - is actually a simple message to all his fans. Before this heartfelt message is revealed, the original plot goes thus:
Raj (Bobby Deol), Yogi (Suniel Shetty) and Vikram (Irffan Khan) are three best friends and partners in a Yacht-selling company in Canada. (Virgin Yachts - symbolism#1) They are happily married to three pretty things. Let's stick to Sanjana (Sonam Kapoor) being Raj's wife. Now what is a marriage without a bit of unrest and, say, womanizing? So the 3 men are serial womanizers too. All is well in the world of Masti and No Entry - err, I mean Thank You - until Sanjana hires a suave private detective Kishan (Akshay Kumar) to tail the unsuspecting trio. The plot further thickens when Kishan develops an attraction (or is it?) towards his client Sanjana... Will there be a tear-inducing self-righteous social message in the end? Your guess is as good as mine!
Before we go into the intricacies of the script, let's give credit where it is due - The cinematography by Ravi Yadav is outstanding. He successfully uses foreign locales and a fat budget to present to us a picture of glossy perfection. Forget the fact that there was no reason whatsoever of needing to shoot the entire film abroad at grossly expensive and needlessly-unique locations. The Niagara fall shot to reveal a sobbing heartbroken Sonam standing at the edge is worth mentioning. (symbolism#2 - waterfall, sobbing? Boy, am I smart!)
Now we were made aware during the Desi-Pink Pantherisque title sequence that there are 5 writers on this film. Yes, five. The only record that Kites could boast of has now been shattered. An instant image that comes to mind is the smoke-filled room in which the writers discuss the ingenious dialogues that will surely bring the house down:
Writer#1: Yaar, enough! I need some coffee now.
Writer#2: Coffee. He said 'coffee'. (laughs) He said coffee. (laughs more)
Writer#3: I need another extramarital angle. 3 is not enough!
Writer#4: Kitna coffee chahiye, bhaiyon?
Writer#5: Kaafi. Kaafi Coffee chahiye. (epiphany) Hey, did you get that? Kaafi Coffee! Kaafi. Coffee. Kaafi. Coffee. (laughs) YES!
Enough said. And this tongue-twister is actually a line. Repeated. Twice.
The music by Pritam and Sandeep Shirodkar is catchy. Until voices take over. Though you cannot help but think if most of the score is similar to the scores used in the director's previous films - only played backwards. Bobby, especially, should be thanking the background score for letting the audience know when he is angry, sad or happy - or any other emotion that requires considerable facial expressions.
Diehard fans of Irrfan will consistently be befuddled with his decision to 'try' out different genres of cinema (mildly put). Look at it this way - that for every Thank You there is A Mighty Heart, for every Sunday there is a The Namesake. The actor has made his plans clear, and you can't grudge him for that.
And other than Irffan, whose deadpan expressions make the most cringeworthy of dialogues seem quite funny, the others try too hard. Akshay shines in spurts, but his infamous comic touch that he had first portrayed during Hera Pheri deserted him long back after, well, Hera Pheri. The same applies to his old partner-in-crime Suniel Shetty.
Rimi is relatively promising, but she cannot rise above the ridiculous situations created for the female protagonists. Sonam Kapoor needs to improve, and FAST. Her dresses won't be enough to pull her through one day. There was also a Celina Jaitley somewhere in the film, but she went missing soon after her first scene. The writers obviously couldn't fit them all in. Who will notice, after all, right?
There is also an unmistakable trend which cannot be defended for too long: All the female characters in these films are portrayed as absolute bimbos and treated as submissive caricatures and props throughout.
Of course, such characterization is haphazardly justified in the climax with an inevitable social message on how their senseless tolerance is the fulcrum around which marriages work in the first place. Husband repents, wife relents. Original. Yes, just like Ragging is supposed to make children tougher. Hmmm.
And finally, all you 'guest appearance' fans out there- there is one final hurrah for you in the climax which, needless to say, puts Inception to shame. Here's a clue: He is a teenage Canadian pop superstar. No, not Abhishek. I promise.
So here (and this time, I cannot be wrong) is Mr Bazmee's coded message to the audience:
- Thank You for encouraging me to go one step further by flooding the theatres to watch No Entry and Welcome...
- Thank You for remembering that I was the brain behind genuine 90s classics like Raja Babu, Gopi Kishan, Aankhen, Deewana Mastana - and hence keeping faith in me and my new-age formula of 'funny extramarital affairs' and unbelievably contrived climaxes.
- Thank You for letting me fit Bobby Deol and Celina Jaitley into one film, and get away with it under the pretext of 'unintentional comedy'.
- Thank You for keeping the cash registers ringing and letting actresses like Rimi and Celina claim another 'hit' in their careers.
- Thank You for not letting me know that the jokes stopped being funny long back.
- Thank You for letting us self-proclaimed saviours of the masses (Sajid, Vipul, Farah and me) proudly claim that we make 'your' kind of cinema.
- Thank You for letting me use the word 'affair' in my films more than it was actually used in tabloids. Back in the 80s.
- And finally, Thank You for driving the best of actors towards me so that I can tickle your funny bone and destroy their acting bone (symbolism#3)
And to that, we say Welcome... and Goodbye. (symbolism#4...or maybe not)
PS: I was kidding about Justin Bieber. The mystery continues.
- Reel Reptile