Movie review: Happy Ending is barely ‘hatke’

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Happy Ending

Director: Raj & DK.

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D’Cruz, Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin and Govinda
Directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK aka Raj & DK have a knack for urban comedies. Their last film, Go Goa Gone, saw zombies invade a rave party in Goa which resulted in blood-soaked violence and laughs. The latest is a comedy about romantic comedies aka romcoms or ‘romedy’ as actor Armaan (Govinda, ace) calls it. This implies that they play all the familiar tropes of the genre, making the audience self-conscious about the formula they have always loved. It is a nifty way to excuse the cliches and the predictability which invariably kicks in. But Raj and Krishna along with their writing partner Sita Menon can get away with all the cheesiness by saying, ‘Hey, that’s the way you like it.’ It is a trick that works only partially.

So we have Yudi Jaitley (Saif Ali Khan), a commitment-phobic author based in Los Angeles, who has been living too comfortably on the royalties of a book he wrote five and a half years ago. Now cash-strapped, he has to write a film for Armaan, an actor who after conquering the single screens aka masses wants to revive his career by asserting his presence in the multiplexes aka classes. He has a stack of Hollywood DVDs from which he wants Yudi to inspire himself and put together a ‘kickass’ Bollywood film full of ‘chumma chaat’. It’s one of the most enjoyable tracks of the film and it works more so because Govinda steals every moment on screen, and writer Hussain Dalal gets the best opportunity to throw in hilarious one-liners such as “Kitna bhi hatke likh lo, log baith ke hi dekhne wale hai”.

Armaan is just one of the memorable supporting characters. The other is Vishaka (Kalki Koechlin), a clingy girlfriend that Yudi is struggling to break-up with, and Monty (Ranvir Shorey), the hero’s quintessential best buddy who provides comic relief. Happy Ending is a smooth, happy-go-lucky ride when it has Yudi dancing to the ‘dhinchak song’, and sharing screen space with these characters. But when it comes to the segments of “boy meets girl” – the girl being Aanchal Reddy (Ileana D’Cruz), an Indian author on a US tour to promote her romantic novel – and actual romance, it loses its liveliness and cleverness. Raj & DK are trapped by the weaknesses of the very genre they have been mocking as they feature superfluous romantic tracks. Endings, says Yudi, are hard as he explains why there is a stack of unfinished manuscripts on his shelf. The makers also struggle to reach their own version of a happy ending.

Rohit Khilnani’s review

It doesn’t help that the livewire, Govinda, misses in action during this portion. Once he returns, the film picks up momentum. It is a role that requires the actor to laugh at the ways the industry works, its obsessions with looks and also at himself. The scene where he stands shirtless and squishes his chest is one of the highlights of the film. Saif Ali Khan also is happy to poke fun at the very films – Hum Tum, Salaam Namaste, Love Aaj Kal and Cocktail – he is most known for. He is in his comfort zone here as he once again essays the part of man-child playing the field in a foreign location, who has to grow up when bitten by the love bug. Only this time around, he reluctantly admits, that he is old. It is with such fun moments which include one fine scene before the interval and the character of Yogi, the junk food-living, brutally honest alter ego of Yudi, that highlights the writers’ quirky sense of humour and the film’s ingenuity.

Preity Zinta has a fun cameo as Yudi’s ex girlfriend who is still his friend, Koechlin makes what could be an annoying part endearing and Shorey is in form as the hapless husband who relies on to his single friend to relive his glory days as a bachelor.

Happy Ending works as a feel-good, frothy movie. But as a romantic comedy it rehashes the familiar ingredients with few new additions. In Armaan’s words, it’s barely ‘hatke’.

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