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Happy New Year (2014)

CRUMBLIES… 4 crumblies

I have become that irritating thing: the pupil that suggests a few things to the master. Vibrant Vinay stared at me with an air of disbelief as old Jack here commended this big, bright, heisty bundle of noise and silliness to him. For Vinay had been taken to a family wedding for a few days, and returned with a scowl and a  knackered slump. And old Jack here had wandered Netflix when he was away and hit upon the sunny hours of joy that are Happy New Year.

So. Shah Rukh Khan is Charlie. He seeks revenge against a bastard that drove his Dad, builder of high-end safes, into prison. Said bastard is transferring the world’s diamonds through his facility and SRK slaps together a group of good crims to show said bastard the error of his smugness. Jackie Shroff gives quality evil as said bastard, Charan Grover, but the fun of the film, as in every heist movie ever, is the cohering of the group of heroes.

And SRK, when he’s not looking sad or twitching with the comedy, gets a good crowd together. The best from the oldster perspective, giving it creaky and affronted by youth, is Boman Irani as Tammy, a link to Charlie’s father and the only one who can open the vault inside the vault inside the corridor inside the…mighty venue where the final of the World Dance Championship is being held. Oh yes. For this group has to be good enough to break hearts with song and dance…

Which is why the youth of the others is handy: Jag (Sonu Sood keeping the ladies entertained), Rohan Singh (Vivaan Shah doing computer magic to get them into the competition despite….special performances) and a double for Grover’s son (Abhishek Bachchan in a set of skits that very nearly work). They are a sparky team.

Now, the romance. There is romance. Uncomfortable age gaps aside (again, viz Chennai Express (2013)), it begins when middle-aged SRK starts a search for a dance teacher. He essentially goes to a strip joint, only this is Bollywood, so there’s no stripping and the dancer he encounters is swinging across the screen in waves of proper hip-dipping gorgeousness: enter Mohini, a youthful bar dancer. And, played by the most beautiful woman on the planet, she treads a line of dance-teacher rage and hurt at Charlie’s contempt for her origins. That’s Deepika Padukone, again, folks. On reflection, Vinay may have been pissed I watched one of her movies without him…did I mention she’s fifty years younger than some of her fans…?

Anyway, Padukone delivers character and fun despite the early objectification, beating the rag-tag bag of thieves into Strictlyesque shape and adding much-needed glam to their performances. She is the emotion underlying the film, for all that the writers try to make it about Charlie’s Dad (oh, and the moment when the motivation flips from revenge to REVENGE)…

Which means they’re all positioned, come the championship, to crawl down from their room to the vaults below. And then things get fun-for-the-boys. I’ll tell you no more about the plot, you should slap Happy New Year onto your home’s telly box some grey, dull day. The performances are loud fun, the emotions entertainingly melodramatic and thoroughly Bollywood, and the action a mix of practical and not-too-obvious computer effects. That the film ends with a runaway and possible runback by most of our heroes…well, not a big surprise, but you’ll be so cheered and craving the climactic, emotional moments between SRK and Padukone that well-handled clichés become a joy.

Which is how Vinay felt three hours after he got back. He started in a grump and ended in a smile.

And um…then we watched this bit again. It’s about sharing cultures now our wives are dead…

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