January 26, 2009

Chandani Chowk to China-

Essentially a Hong-Kong Kung-Fu movie in a Bollywood package, I am not crazy about CC2C, but I do not understand all the criticism it has taken either. However, I am getting ahead of myself- lets talk about the movie before we talk about its critiques.

Title: Chandini Chowk to China
Year: 2009
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Ranvir Shorey, Deepika Padukone, Mithun Chakraborty, Roger Yuan, Chia Hui Liu.

Akshay helps out at a restaurant in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi. He is extremely superstitious, an orphan and always looking for that one chance that will have him hitting the big time.

The restaurant where Akshay works at is owned by Mithun, who has taken care of Akshay since a wee babe. I have to say, I totally LURVED Mithun here- he is so adorable, so uncle-y- big hug. Mithun looks out for Akshay at every step, and stops him from getting into trouble.


Akshay spends his nights watching late-night TV, where Deepika hosts a HSN-type program, "TSM." The spoofs of HSN ads are really hilarious- I'd see the movie again for that bit :D The girl definitely has comic skills.


Ranvir is a fraud Indo-Chinese fortune teller and regularly dupes Akshay.


Meanwhile, things are happening: a guy called Hojo is lording it up as the local crime boss somewhere in China. The fed-up-to-here villagers decide that the ancient warrior Liu Sheung has been reborn in India, and figure out it is Akshay (how??? we don't know). Incidentally, Hojo is doubly-villainous for our purposes since he has brought up Dipika's twin as an evil-murderous-assassin-type.


So they trek to India (howww do poor Chinese peasants get the money to make the trip???) and find Akshay among the thronging millions in Delhi in about half a minute. Akshay has been quite busy in the meantime, having found a lucky potato (heeh) that looks like Ganesha (another really fun bit).


So Akshay gets conned into going to China, and meets Dipika and her twin and much related comedy ensues, along w/ gangsta-style songs....


But there is work to be done- the 2 Dipikas must be reunited with their dad, who has suffered via Hojo,


and Akshay must avenge Mithun's subsequent death from Hojo's hands and bring justice to the ever-suffering villagers.


Do you doubt he can accomplish this? No? Good then, because how could Akshay lose any fight, anywhere in the world?

Pros:

1- Akshay, Mithun, Roger Yuan.
2- The movie is the best of its kind- we have had HORRIBLE Bolly Kung-Fu movies, but here we are treated to the good stuff.

Cons:

1- Most of the significant Chinese shots are done around the Great Wall, with a brief visit to the Forbidden City- which is a waste, since they could have really taken advantage of the beautiful Chinese countryside. At one point, it felt as if the only structure in China was the Wall- we are shown that much of it, that often :)
2- I'd have liked to see more of Chandni Chowk as well. How can you conciously put it in the title of the movie and not show us more of it?
3- Killing off Mithun mid-movie breaks my heart- seriously- who in their right minds would show Mithun dyingggg????
4- Akshay turns so strong with his quickie Kung-Fu training that he breaks parts of the Great Wall as he runs through it- ridiculous. It wasn't meant to be funny, so just ended up being really silly.
5- I am NOT fond of Akshay's emo scenes (actually, I am not fond of emo scenes hardly ever), and here they were just excessive.

So why did it not work?

None of the Cons of the movie are particularly serious- I went in with zero expectations, and found that there were lots of self-referential Bolly humor and decent action to enjoy. I tend to love nonsensical Jackie Chan movies, and found no reason to not love this as well. It can be argued of course that the movie is essentially a cohesion of very basic Kung-Fu formula with very basic Masala- there is nothing innovative being offered here, it is highly unrealistic, and yes, it isn't a "great" movie- but we don't watch Akshay's movies for realism or Satyajit-Ray-esque high-art. I honestly believe that CC2C lays down the benchmark for Bolly-action, and is therefore memorable for that reason alone.

12 comments:

Bhargav Saikia said...

I felt the action was rather mediocre. Kung Fu is hardly exploited in CC2C. Look at what films like Kill Bill and the rest did to Kung Fu. I was expecting much from this film but then I don't think Nikhil Advani is the right person to make an action film. I hope he proves me wrong!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Bhargav Saikia: I agree that the action itself is hardly spectacular, but then it was a Bolly action-comedy, and therefore in a niche genre all its own. It is also definitely slicker than Bollywood's earlier martial art movies- though Karate and Commando remain v close to my heart :D

Amey said...

figure out it is Akshay (how?)
Errr... didn't the villagers go and visit some monastery or something where they got that "drawing" of Akshay? I also thought the village is somewhere near the Wall.

The bits I found funny: Deepika/Deepika's father was named Inspector Chiang. And she recognizes him based solely on his name, right? Also, why all those drawings, and not photographs?

Loved TSM, and how they got around the Chinese people speaking fluent Hindi bit. One time viewing, what say?

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Amey: Considering he is supposed to be a assitant in a small Chandni Chwok restaraunt, I am amazed they figured out his location that easily- even if the prediction specifically said chandni chowk. Yeah Dipika's memory was "photographic" enough I guess :D I'd watch it again- for the TSM :P

Bhargav Saikia said...

LOL! To each his own then :D

I've added your blog to my blog roll :) You've got a nice blog!

Cheers!
Bhargav.

PrivateMarriage.com said...

It was just boring & disappointing.

Nicki said...

Interesting. I'm a huge martial arts fan and think I will be disappointed. Akki has a black belt. Use it!! I am no fan of Deepika cause I find her overrated but have to admit she looks good!

Filmi Girl said...

The TSM bits were really funny. I loved the "Baby Can't Dance" parody, especially!

I have been thinking about why this provoked such a negative reaction and I wonder if the knowledge that this was a "Warner Brothers" film had anything to do with it... the Hollywood-style promotions not jiving well with the Indian audience. I remember Saawariya (produced by Song) generating a lot of the same kind of "worst film ever made" press...

(I really can't get enough of talking about CC2C!)

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Bhargav Saikia: hehe- well said :D Thanks so much for the good words- I shall jump over and checkout yours as well :)

PrivateMarriage: (is that for reals?)- in Bhargav's immortalised words, "to each his own" :D

Nicki: I think you will like it, honestly. The martial arts are there, as long we dont expect very technical stuff- it is certainly more KungFu than Bollywood has had ever before. Dipika was honestly v v funny- I wasnt impressed by her in OSO, but she was v competent here.

Filmi Girl: I could watch the TSM bits again- I wish they had more! You raise a good point about Warner- however I personally doubt if an Akshay movie would not get takers just because of that. The promos appeared well enough to me- but like you said, they may not have jived well w/ the larger gp- [sigh] CC2C continues to mystify me w/ its lack of fans. I do think Sawariya was pretty awful- though not the worst film ever- but that's just cos I didnt care for all the oozing emotion :D

Nida said...

Hmm, okay. You know, I was thinking of giving this one a pass (despite the fact that I was sportin' a blog banner with a shot from it for the past 3 weeks), but after reading your review, what the heck, I'll probably grab a copy....when it comes out on DVD, er, at my local Indian grocer...

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Nida: Alright! I am glad I was able to convince 1 person- maybe you in turn will convince someone else, one day, provided the movie wins you over :D

Arantxa said...

Oh wow, mum had very nasty things to say about this movie so I haven't seen it yet. I think I'll give it a chance :)