Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D'Cruz, Ranvir Shorey, Govinda, Preity Zinta
Raj Nidimoru, Krishna DK
Yudi Jaitley, the hero of Happy Ending, is described by one of his many ex-girlfriends as ‘a thoughtful jerk’. Played by Saif Ali Khan, Yudi is a commitment-phobic philanderer who simply can’t bring himself to say ‘I love you’.
When a desperate girlfriend insists that he might have layers, Yudi honestly replies: “Mere andar koi depth wepth nahin hai”. Basically Yudi is a manchild who refuses to grow up; his car license plate reads ‘Yudi Jet’. Like those dirty old men in The Shaukeens, his ‘fithrath’ is also ‘doggy-wali’.
Yudi writes for a living, but his one successful book was five-anda-half years ago. To pay the bills, he agrees to write a script for a fading Bollywood star, Armaan (Govinda). As Yudi writes the rom-com, he finds himself falling in love with a rival writer, Aanchal (Ileana D’Cruz).
Directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK are attempting here to create a rom-com that parodies Bollywood rom-com conventions — the random boy-girl meeting, the foreign locations, the item number, the inevitable conflict, the climactic reunion at the airport and, of course, the happy ending. What Scream did for the horror genre, Happy Ending wants to do for this one.
It’s a worthy aim, but the problem is that this film isn’t half as clever or charming as it needed to be. It’s an overtly self-aware send-up that mostly vacillates between bland and boring.
Raj and DK have a disruptive, edgy sensibility, which was so evident in films like Shor in the City and Go Goa Gone — who else could have imagined Saif as a faux Russian zombie hunter? But here, they saddle him with the standard-issue arrested development persona. Interestingly, they also make him Yogi, a pot-bellied, gluttonous alter-ego who drops in sporadically to comment on the plot and give Yudi a reality check. Great idea, but Yogi is so flatly written that he comes off as more annoying than funny. In fact, the writing, by Raj, DK and Sita Menon, is the fatal flaw here. It is largely lifeless.
What does work is the irrepressible Govinda. Armaanji is your typical Bollywood narcissist who occasionally throws up gems. While advising Yudi on why he needs to write a glorious, escapist movie with a happy ending, he says: “Teen sau rupaye mein logon ko jeena mat sikha.”
Sadly, there is very little of Armaan. Ranvir Shorey, playing Yudi’s best friend Montu, gets the film’s best line — he analyses Yudi’s predicament and concludes: “Karma is being bitchy, bro.” I really wanted more of this. Instead we get Saif reprising his usual urbane, romantic-comic character, Ileana in the potentially engaging but underwritten role of a decidedly unromantic romance novelist, Kalki Koechlin as a borderline psycho-stalker girlfriend, and Preity Zinta in the thankless role of an ex-girlfriend, now mother of triplets, who doles out advice at 2 am.
I suspect that somewhere in there was a genuinely sparkling and subversive love story. Sadly, it never emerges.