|Chandni Chowk to China|
|Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Ranvir Shorey, Mithun Chakrabort, Gordon Liu, Roger Yuan|
There’s a guileless lack of inflated machismo that’s refreshingly endearing; but still, he’s the one who gets the bad guy in the end, no questions about that. One is far from comparing Akshay Kumar films with the vilely vulgar David-Dhawan-Govinda comedies – but there’s a reason why, in the midst of perfectly clean humour, Kumar must say or so something uncouth that cracks up some in the audience.
Like when Kumar is kicked on the backside by his guardian so he flies, reaching the sky, looking down grinningly, only to fall splat on a marriage mandap. Or when he’s in a fight and screams something about this tearing innerwear.
In CC2C, Kumar plays dumber than dumb Sidhu, a vegetable cutter in Chandni Chowk who was adopted by his loving employer Dada (Mithun Chakraborty). Tired of working a lot and gaining little, Sidhu is keen on changing his destiny, which he believes can happen by listening to the local quack baba Chopstick (Ranvir Shorey), named thus for his knowledge of Indian and Chinese astrology.
So when Sidhu finds a potato on which he finds Lord Ganesha has been carved, he adopts the vegetable as a lucky charm calling it `bappa’. For reasons that need not be questioned, two Chinese gentlemen – Indian tourists – insist that Sidhu is a reincarnation of their slain hero and can save their village from the evil Hojo (Gordon Liu; simply superb).
Chopstick translates them wrongly and lands in China with an unknowing Sidhu. They keep running into Sakhi (Deepika Padukone) who models cheesy ads for products like a learn-how-to-dance ankle gadget, or a bullet-proof umbrella that’s also a parachute (James Bond’s spy gadgets seem washed out, yes?). She’s there to pay tribute to her Chinese father and sister, she believes were killed.
Strangely, she transforms into an alter-ego, Kung-Fu expert called Meow Meow who the police are after. All roads lead to dreaded villain Hojo who has a connect with both Sidhu and Sakhi. In getting the bad guy, we have lots of bends in the story and loads of hugely entertaining martial arts action.
Technically, the film is impressive. Gorgeous, rich cinematography, (Himman Dhamija— Heyy Babyy, Bluffmaster!) brings each frame alive. Nikhil Advani is in form after the debacle of Salaam-E-Ishq.
However, too many turns and twists, make this film a bit of a knot, and rather tiresome in the second half. The recurring flashbacks with ear-splitting background music could have easily been avoided. Repetitive dialogue and situations could have easily relieved the film of its superfluous 30 minutes, and we’d have a leaner, tighter story flow. The archaic way of storytelling, using the voice-over to move to the next chapter, is dull. Also unwelcome are the unbelievable occurrences like Dada arriving in China miraculously, just in time to lecture Sidhu before he is to take on Hojo.
Action has always been Kumar’s strong point – and here, the filmmakers give us more by adding the martial arts twist – a novelty for the Indian audience. However, disappointingly, some acts are way too exaggerated to have an effect and are more like unintentional comedy bits. But the ending portion atop the Great Wall of China (one of the 7 Wonders of the World, as we know) is an unbelievable treat. This is the first time a film has shot on this historic site.
The songs are all fun and wonderfully choreographed; especially Chandni Chowk to China and India se aaya mera dost. The ending rap song where Kumar pays homage to himself is a bit much. By the way, the team is all set to come back with a new story in a new country…a sequel is in waiting.
Kumar is fabulous in the over-the-top comic scenes like the one where he dances the mujra, bhangra and more in a few seconds, or the one where he complains to his dada about his bad luck saying “mere pass to ma bhi nahin hai”.
Deepika is certain to win over the audience’s hearts, even those who, so far, have been lukewarm towards her. The transformation, both in terms of performance and styling, is remarkable. Padukone marvels in the action scenes, is delightful in the comic portions and is a treat to watch throughout. Roger Yuan, who plays Deepika’s father is just marvelous.
CC2C marks the entry of Hollywood’s studio giant Warned Bros. Picture into the Indian film market (here they are co-producers and distributors). From the cast, to the location, the styling, and filmmaking finesse – the luxurious spend of money is palpable. For the fact that this is the first Indian film to be shot in China and the only one ever atop the Great Wall; for Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone’s superb performances, the film is a must-see.
Verdict: Three stars