Chandni Chowk to China
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Kiran Juneja, Ramesh Sippy (voice only)
Direction: (huh?) Nikhil Advani
Hai hai, Hindi-Chini bye bye. Out there at the Great Wall of China, there’s a bizarre beggar who laughs lustily like a hyena. Meanwhile, his lost-and-still-not-found daughter Meow Meow sings like a mynah. And it’s all because of a Mr Sidhu (no relative to Navjot) who keeps going blah, blah, blah till you want to beg, “Hey dude, bas ab ja, ja.” More ho-ham here than ha ha.
Neither a dumb aloo nor a dumb sum, Chandni Chowk to China has been directed by Nikhil Advani and produced by more individuals and companies (including good ole Warner Bros) than you can count on your toes, fingers and teeth. So, is this a classic case of too many Bros spoiling the broth? Or is it just a case of woeful, woozy, wasteful filmmaking? And since for the first time in Indian cinema, a plot premise seems to resemble an animation movie (Kung Fu Panda), the outcome is bound to be hooey. Now how Warner be is that!
Gee, so your eyes become round like freshly roasted paapadums when that Sidhu (Akshay Kumar) chops radishes and carrots in Delhi’s Parathewalli Gully. Or is it a Studio Canteen? There a foster Dixo Dad (Mithun Chakraborty, help) who calls Sidhu Carrot his ‘bhai’ probably because he’s seen too many Ram Gopal Underworld movies. And he’s still normal! Anyway, Sidhu Carrot is often kicked by dad to the high heavens (literally) and is soon flying to Chinistan to rescue a collection of expressionless coolies from a Mr Hojo Hatwalla (Very Bad Actor Ling). Hojo hi Hoja. This gent beheads tender necks with his sickle-sharp hat. How hat ke is that!
Now from what you can decipher, Carrot Sidhu goes berserk. Saddled with a kimono-draped Ranvir Shorey and two under-fed Chinese, that’s quite understandable. Mayhem ahead. Carrot, Chopsticks and Underfed are tormented by that Hojo hi Hojo Hatter, Orange Hair Goonda (Scowl Machine), Seetika Thams (Deepika) and Geetika Thams (Padukone), not to forget a very brainy airline passenger, who keeps asking, “Are you STUPID?” How rude is that!
Next: you nearly fly through the multiplex roof yourself. Like angels, Carrot and Seetika fly over Shanghai by night, almost landing in outer space like Yuri Gagarin did. Good heavens! Foster Dixo Dad is killed, Hojo hi Hojo Hatman does wee-wee (like Amrish Puri did in Priyadarshan’s Kaalapaani) on the Carrot’s face. Ewww. At long last to wreak vendetta, Carrot is given a crash course in Cosmic Kinng Phew by that Bizarre Wall Mart Beggar. No free shark’s fin soup for guessing the ending. Spoiler: A sickle turns out to be deadlier than red chilli pickle. How you wish you were far away like Rip Van Winkle.
Throughout, the patchy screenplay and direction, the harum-scarum shot takings, the snore-inspiring editing and the assembly-whine music score (the title song sounds better on CD) add to your astonishment. Is this where entertainment is headed? To Nowhere Land? Also, there are so many narrative jumps that it takes Ramesh Sippy’s intervening voice-over to (try and) clue you into what the hell’s going yawn. How you miss Amitabh Bachchanji’s dub.. for once.
Phew, now to come to the great acting crew. Kiran Juneja is shockingly wasted in a cameo as the twins’ harrowed mom. Roger Chiun as the Deewaar Beggar is the most competent of the lot which is not saying much.
Deepika Padukone looks fairly good, acts fairly bad. As for Akshay Kumar, his I’m-so-cute bumpkin formula (Namaste London, Singh is Kinng) has become a mammoth, over-the-top bore. Please quit hamming. Incidentally, he describes himself as a 27-and-a-half-year-old here despite a distinctly salt-and-pepper stubble.
How, how, how disappointing is that! Just like the rest of this Chandni Chowk to Choona.