Thursday, November 17, 2005
Neal n Nikki
Sweet n sexy
Full on rocking
Hot n happening
The evolved junta might go ugh! but brace yourself. This is the tune which will be ruling the airwaves in the coming weeks. It's a Yashraj film and you know how hard their Promo Machine works.
Yup, those are the rather cheesy lyrics from the catchy title track of their next release - 'Neal n Nikki'. A film, which, like Salaam Namaste seeks to redefine what being 'young and Indian' is all about. But from a continent away.
So while Salaam Namaste was set in Australia, this one's got Canada as the backdrop. And judging from the promo CD sent to JAM magazine by Yashraj, it's DDLJ in reverse.
Synopsis: Neal (Uday Chopra) gives into his parents’ wishes of marrying a girl called Sweetie from Bhatinda, but has just one pre condition to getting married. He wants to live it up one last time and wants to go to Vancouver on a 21 day bachelor vacation.
So the poor dear is let off for one last, long roll in the hay...
Neal gets lucky on his first day out in Vancouver and is asked out by a hot super model. A silly, spunky Indian girl screws up the date. The girl? Nikki Bakshi (Tanisha Mukerjee)!! But this is only the first of many chance encounters, where Nikki – mostly by accident – ensures that Neal never, ever gets lucky!!
Whatever Neal does, Nikki un does. Call it luck, call it fate, call it anything. Bit by bit, Neal’s bachelor vacation starts falling apart – whether he is going skinny dipping with a girl, or enjoying a romp in the back seat of a car. Nikki turns up everywhere to spoil things for poor, poor Neal!!
So far, so good. Now comes the really 'cool and modern' bit.
A truce is called between the two, when Nikki decides to help Neal get some serious action. She tells him she can get him laid and takes him to “babe heaven” – Whistler!!
Will it work?
Most likely, yes. Neal is living out every Young Brown Male's fantasy. Getting 'lucky' with a hot white chick on the day he arrives in Vancouver, for example. It's what every nerd who steps out of the airport is secretly hoping!
As for Nikki, she represents the "I can be naughty, but I'm basically nice" face of the young Indian woman.
I know, the film's tag line is "Nice is out, naughty is in" but I'm pretty sure they won't be showing Nikki "going skinny dipping with a boy, or enjoying a romp in the back seat of a car". Trust me on that.
The special feature of the Yashraj 'trendy' films factory is somehow, they get the styling just right. And I don't mean just the clothes. They do push the envelope, but not so much that it tears.
I mean in the end of Salaam Namaste, Preity isn't just left holding a baby she conceived while in a live-in relationship. The couple does marry.
Secondly, Yashraj is definitely formula but they always add some interesting touches. In 'Salaam Namaste' for example, the Jaaved Jaffrey character was quite a riot. Like 'Kaantaben' was, in Kal ho na ho.
Thirdly, Aditya Chopra is definitely the Invisible Hand orchestrating it all. Arjun Sablok is credited with story, screenplay and direction. Which is bad news - given his earlier, excruciating 'Na tum jaano na hum'!
But, if Yashraj has decided to film it, you can be sure the kinks and chinks have been ironed out. The same happened with Kunal Kohli, after all. After a disastrous Mujhse Dosti Karoge he managed a Hum Tum.
I thought the film was a poor rip-off of When Harry met Sally but most of India went gaga over it! Of course, Saif as leading man (and Rani to an extent) also added charm to Hum Tum.
Will two relatively lightweight stars like Uday Chopra and Tanisha manage to work the same magic? Well, at least Uday has worked hard on his 'look'. Pehle se accha lag raha hai. Tanisha has lost oodles of weight (a little too much I think!) but seems to suit the role.
But hey, one more chi-chi youth film with Preity/ Rani/ Saif in the lead would have been hard to swallow. It's been-there-done-that, we're-bored-what-next.
Having lesser known stars can be a blessing in disguise. The producers simply have to pay more attention to the story and dialogue.
They know that if the film's an entertainer, the word-of-mouth from the first weekend crowd will bring in enough audiences in the days to follow!
Bollywood goes corporate
Yashraj has managed to 'scale up' and corporatise. Cranking out more and more content for an entertainment-hungry India.
And when one has to churn out 2-3 'products' a year, originality is what takes a hit. The designer youth films of the Chopras are invariably 'inspired' by phoren ones.
Of course, being far smarter than the Bhatts, Yashraj never copies scene by scene.
Wonder Neal n Nikki ka idea kahaan se uthaya hai. With the film getting released next month, we'll know soon enough!
For all its fabulous promos, box office success and even awards, a Yashraj film is never what I would call a 'classic'. That's because it is based on formula - although one that's been tweaked a bit and packaged beautifully.
I don't see Yashraj ever making a true cult film like Dil Chahta Hai. A film which was made with a completely different mindset.
Trouble is, even Farhan Akhtar can't make another Dil Chahta Hai (and shouldn't be expected to either!). We need both kinds of filmmakers. And then some!
For now, let's just hope Neal n Nikki is at least half as "Funny, frothy, fantastic!!" as Yashraj promos describe it!