It’s not very often that the wife, and I get to get a night out on the town, so we were really thrilled to receive two VIP passes to the advance screening of this much anticipated “chuckle a minute” spoof from the renowned director Nikhil Advani. We arrived at the AMC Empire theatre on 42nd St in Manhattan around 6.30PM almost frozen stiff, and tried to rush straight in, only to be pushed out into the freezing cold. We were told to stand out and cheer Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone like cheerleaders from one of those newly formed Indian Cricket Teams. I did not find that humorous, as we are grown people, who “Try” to be dignified, but this little sting robbed me of any dignity I had. Not to mention my bitter half was really bitter. She wanted us to leave right away, as her highness is not used to being stood up. Click on image for video of NYC Premiere We braved the bitter cold of New York City just to catch a glimpse of the glitterati for a split second. Deepika Padukone got out of the limo and rushed straight in, as she was wearing a strapless dress (She is brave). Akshay and Twinkle (his wife) arrived shortly, and mingled with the crowd. You should have seen some of the grown desi men in moustaches screaming at the top of their lungs Akshay, we love you. I honestly found that quite entertaining, although you won’t catch me screaming like that even if they put my favorite Katrina Kaif next to me in a bikini (I would be eating my hat minus the toppings in my heart though). Everyone was so cold by the time the celebrities left that we all literally pushed our way in past all the dolled up hopeful chicks, who just wanted to catch Akshay’s attention. Little did they realize that he would have his beautiful wife in tow. Anyways to cut a long story short, we got into the theatre with a complimentary small popcorn, and coke, and jumped at the first available seats in the third row from the top towards the middle so that we could get a clear view of the screen. The movie started immediately, as we were behind schedule. Wild Roller Coaster Ride The movie started off brilliantly with the story of a mythical Chinese warrior Liu Sheng, who died defending his country against the invading tribes. I must say the the vibrant sights and sounds of China made me want to pack my bags and get on the next plane to that place. That was until they showed the reincarnation of Liu Sheng in the form of Akshay Kumar. From the time Akshay entered the film, it was like a wild roller coaster ride. The film was full of loud meaningless verbal tirades from Akshay Kumar, Mithun Da, and Ranvir Shorey as Chopstick (the confused Indo Chinese cocktail who tells people’s fortune). Where’s the Story? Well, this is yet another bizarre meets stupidity yarn along the lines of Singh is Kinng. Sure, the film had some really funny moments, that are fast becoming Akshay Kumar, and Ranvir Shore’s trademark ishtyle, but one can’t help but notice that for all the money Indian film makers spend on locations, stars, and special effects, they can’t manage to get good script writers. This film, as well as most other Indian films are so dazzling, and full of star power that they can easily put any Hollywood film to shame, but when it comes to a story line or script, they are horribly antiquated. Like in his last movie Singh is Kinng, Akshay Kumar plays an yokel in this movie too. In Chandni Chowk to China, Akshay is cast in the role of a cook/vegetable cutter in a Chandni Chowk dhabha, who is forever playing the lottery, praying to Lord Ganesh and showing his hand to astrologers. Thanks to the machinations of a Chinese fortuneteller, Akshay lands up in a Chinese village where the suffering people believe he’s the reincarnation of the long dead Liu Sheng come to help them against a local evil character called Hojo. The movie then takes some weird twists rivaling the winding Great Wall of China before an ende gut, alles gut ending. It seems, at times, as if scenes were just stuffed into the film to reach the magic number of three hours; and half the theatre was walking out during a song sequence. There are some glaring inconsistencies throughout the film, but you just have to overlook them. Just to give you an example, a person who was a police officer, who was roaming the streets as a mad man for 20 years, can’t just get to be inspector again, and start teaching Kung Fu. But since I am such a nice guy, I am not going to give the whole story away. Still, Akshay carries the whole movie on his shoulders and does justice to his role. Deepika Padukone could be better. Frankly yaar, she did not impress. Music The songs are perfect for the under-30s crowd or if you are into remix/pop. Most songs would make excellent tracks for the car or for DJs across the world. Indiase aaya mera dost was a pretty comical spoof on the old Bombayse aya mera dost. But I don’t see anybody rushing out to buy the CD. Oh, yeah, the picturization of the songs were handled well. Verdict In closing I would like to say that I would prefer a silly movie like this over a very carefully written, and directed “Ghajini” because the latter was a bit too gloomy for my liking, especially given the state of the economy. I think people should watch movies that make them forget about their stresses, and worries instead of making them sit at the edge of their seats, but then again that is my opinion. I hope you enjoy Chandni Chowk to China and not be disappointed by all its inconsistencies. – Sonny Chatrath
Chandni Chowk to China: Review
Jan 14 2009 By Lucy Proctor
Chandni Chowk to China
Chandni Chowk to China is a ‘senseless’ film according to star Akshay Kumar. But you would have to leave your eyes and ears as well as your mind at the cinema door to enjoy this mishmash of a Bollywood film.
Billed as the ultimate Boll-iental experience, the idea of a Bollywood blockbuster that captures the Chinese imagination bankrolled with the clout of Warner Brothers is clearly a potential goldmine.
The popular feel-good films of these two mega nations have much in common, with their tendency towards sentimentality, huge set-piece scenes, story lines littered with impossible coincidences, and references to folk tales and history. The nations have a long history of parallel fortunes, from the rise of Buddhism after monks travelled across the Himalayas to India (retold in Damon Albarn’s recent hit Journey to the West) to their rapid rise up the global economic ranks in the last decade.
A film that combined the king fu class of China with the emotion and drum beats of Bollywood in a tale revolving around fatherly love and rags-to-riches morality should be truly unforgettable in both countries.
But Nikhil Advani’s film flops, not least in the eyes of the large number of Chinese who walked out of the red carpet première in Leicester Square on Monday night.
Anyone with any understanding of the Chinese psyche would be extremely wary of basing a film around the premise that a bunch of idiotic and gullible villagers would need the help of a foreigner who mistakes himself as the reincarnation of a Great Wall warrior to reclaim their land. The few dance numbers involving the Chinese were stylistically drab bearing in mind the richness of Chinese art and culture, the odd token fan and a strange reference to Shanghai gangland the only attempts to include anything vaguely ‘oriental’.
Neither could a surprise appearance from Hollywood godfather Amitabh Bachchan assuage the disappointment of the Asian audience, denied any semblance of a sympathetic character in Akshay Kumar’s ridiculous chef who travels to China on the supposed luck of a Ganesh shaped spud. The potato peeler from the alleys of Chandni Chowk turns out to be an ungrateful imbecile, letting his adoptive father down at the point of his death, only to get the girl in a ludicrous fantasy flying umbrella scene completely out of synch with the rest of the bland sets. What strength he displays in his half-hearted kung fu is cancelled out by the immense amount of blubbering between action scenes and the glimpses of Kumar’s stage presence are few and far between.
Despite having two roles as twins – one evil, one good – the stunning Deepika Padukone is barely there, left to wander around a 100 metre section of the Great Wall in a daze for much of the film, possibly mystified by the holes in her two plots that include a mad Chinese professor with diamond encrusted hearing aids that act as translators and a third personality as an under performing dancer in a tacky advert.
Quite what Warner Brothers hope to achieve with this first foray into Bollywood is as much of a mystery.
Chandni Chowk to China opens in selected cinemas on Friday, January 16.