Starring Mithin Chakraborty, Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Ranvir Shorey Directed by Nikhil Advani Rating : * ½
This is a film about maar-saala arts, not to be confused with martial arts which Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan practice with such splendid and subtle skills on screen.
Akshay Kumar cannot be accused of the sins of subtlety. Not at all. He goes from a sweaty cook in Chandni Chowk to a cheesy fighter in China with hammers tongs and indecipherable tongues.
What lies between the extremities represented by the two Oriental cultures has to be seen to be believed….or, not seen to be not borne. But then we in country love to torture ourselves. And most of us do exactly what we are told not to.
So go for this one. And find out why 'Bollywood' (that horribly inappropriate wannabe term used to describe Hindi mainstream cinema) cannot compete with its technically savvy upcountry cousins from the West, or even China and Hong Kong.
When Jackie Chan kicks ass, man… he really kicks! No two ways about it. Akshay Kumar divides his time between being an action hero and a comic virtuoso, tripping over the line that divides the two genres with little or no scope to contain the fall as the screenplay plunges lower and lower into the depths of inanity.
Writer Sridhar Raghavan, known for his smart slick cerebral takes on formulistic conventions spins a web of incidents chronicling the journey of Sidhu the protagonist from a cook in Chandni Chowk to the satirical samurai in Shanghai is littered with laughable incidents and episodes that appear more to be part of a clumsy sitcom lampooning the Chinese than purported large-screen spectacle bringing China to Bollywood.
Director Nikhil Advani (who displayed pockets of sensitivity in his innovative but over-long Salaam-e-Ishq two years ago) takes the hero into what looks like a carryover of the Chambal ravines in China.
Honestly, if this film had been shot anywhere in the world it would've been just as bland and fatuous. What compounds the woefully inadequate narration is the abject lack of connectivity between the protagonist and the audience.
Not even for a second do we feel a rush of empathetic adrenaline for the culturally-displaced Sidhu who encounters all kinds of emaciated goons, terrorized by a suited, booted and largely-uprooted villain named Hojo (Gordon Lieu) who is no Gabbar Singh or Mogambo.
Just an aging goon in a black suit who doesn't know it's bad manners to pee in public, specially in the hero's face.
Brutality when done with grace can be extremely arresting. We saw that recently in Ghajini. Chandni Chowk To China does the cause of cinematic violence a great deal of disservice.
The internationally-renowned action directors who pool in their might seem unsure of where to position the action. Perched on the Great Wall Of China, Akshay Kumar and his fellow fighters (and that includes the desi Lucy Lieu Deepika Padukone) slug it out like drunken revelers on a rowdy spree.
Elegance is in short supply in the film, except when Deepika playing twin sisters (told apart mainly by their hair, one of them perpetually forgets to braid it properly) waltzes in with a light step and twinkling eye. She seems to have fun. We don't. And that's mainly because the scriptwriter forgot to include the audience in his circle of entertainment.
Large chunks of this 'Adventures Of Sidhu in blunderland' saga leave us cold and unresponsive. And when the final climactic fight between the hero and the villain occurs, Akshay Kumar decides to turn it into a comic romp in the middle of the climac. We are more dazed than dazzled by the baffling mood swings in the plot.
Yes, there are moments that hold your attention. Sidhu's martial arts training with twin Deepika Padukone's Chinese dad (who looks like he could do with a wash) are superbly orchestrated.
That touch of unstrained comicality in stressful times that the narration apparently strives to achive, eludes the film by a wide margin. Most of the time you are looking at a film that does appalling things to Indo-Chinese relations. Not to mention our traditional perception of mainstream masala-maar ke entertainment.
Martial arts are turned into maar-saala arts. And you leave the film wondering what it was meant to be. A bird, a plane or just a pathetic parody of Jackie Chan's comic vendetta sagas.
Chandni Chowk To China isn't just no-brainer. Its lobotomized laughter can make you wish for anesthesia. At least you'd know where the numbness is coming from.
While RAB NE BANA DI JODI is already a Superhit and GHAJINI is on the way to become one, Bollywood is looking at a hat trick of big money spinners with Akshay Kumar bringing his CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA in three weeks from now. In a way it is quite deserving for Top–3 stars of the country to be giving back to back big hits, especially in the time when recession has impacted Bollywood too in a big way. No wonder, Rohan Sippy, producer of CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA, is mighty excited about the prospects of his film and credits Akshay Kumar for the way it has eventually turned out to be.
"Akshay has brought in his own energy, his genius to the film", says Rohan Sippy when quizzed about Akshay's contribution to the making of the film, not just as an actor but also as someone who actively gets himself involved into the creative aspect of making the film.
"To begin with, there were no restrictions of any kind when CC2C was being made", reveals Rohan, "At every stage of the film, we were open to any ideas that could help it grow further. Akshay would in fact come up with suggestions during the shots and also improvise a lot. Some of the ideas were the kind that were not on paper or anyone's mind but when Akshay incorporated them, they took the film to a different high."
How did Nikhil Advani, the film's director, respond to such 'involvement'? Didn't he resent it?
"Akshay would always bounce off ideas and most of the time Nikhil enjoyed them. When he didn't, he shared his apprehensions. In any case, Akshay wasn't forcing anyone to accept his ideas", says Rohan while putting a full stop to all controversies.For Gossips And Mirch Masala Log On To Bollywood Paradize
While CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA (arriving on 16th) is the biggest release of January 2009 with RAAZ – THE MYSTERY CONTINUES, which follows a week later, carrying good reports as well, they are not the only ones to kick start the year 2009. Instead, as many as five films would be arriving before these two films, though all on 9th January (which is the second weekend of the year), since traditionally, in the decade gone by, none of the movies released on the first weekend have done well at the box office.
These movies are 42 KMS, BAD LUCK GOVIND, HORN OK PLEASSSS, KAASHH...MERE HOTE and THE PRESIDENT IS COMING. While 42 KMS was earlier titled MARATHON and couldn't see the light of the day, BAD LUCK GOVIND too is a small time film and carried a working title of KISMAT BOLE TOH? earlier on. HORN OK PLEASSSS has been mired in controversy ever since the Nana v/s Tanushree battle made headlines while KAASHH... MERE HOTE just doesn't bring with it positive vibes in spite of a romantic theme. As for THE PRESIDENT IS COMING, one wonders how Rohan Sippy and team would concentrate on its release considering his biggie CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA releases a week later.
No wonder, situation is pretty glum for each of these five movies even as they defy the first weekend jinx. That's because all of them belong to the kind that has been ready for quite some time now and are just being released because no other biggie is interested in arriving during this time frame. For Gossips And Mirch Masala Log On To Bollywood Paradize
Akshay Kumar starrer Chandni Chowk To China(CCTC) is said to be inspired by Hollywood's animated blockbuster Kung Fu Panda(KFP).
According to sources, "In both the films the main character feels like a loser who must fulfill his destiny by rising to an occasion and fighting the demons who want to destroy the empire. CCTC is actually KFP meets Bollywood."
A few similarities seen in both the films are that in KFP the main character is a panda and is voiced by Jack Black who is a cook. In Chandni Chowk to China the main character is Akshay who is a cook himself, and his name is Sidhu.
In KFP, Po leaves his hometown to fulfill his dreams while in CCTC Sidhu leaves Delhi to go to China to fulfill his dreams. After leaving home they both tend to overcome their weakness and learn martial arts on reaching their destinations. Both the movies are based in China with Kung Fu and royalty.
It's also said that the potato slicing scene which is shown in the promos of CCTC is also similar to a scene in KFP where Po is shown slicing vegetables. The only uncommon factor in both these films is that CCTC is a live action film and has a heroine who is paired opposite Akki while KFP was an animated flick without any love angle to it.
When asked the producer Rohan Sippy about the similarities between both the films he said that he had not seen KFP but as per the stories he has heard there seem to be a few similarities.
But he also said that CCTC was written three years back and the story is based on modern day China so it's just a matter of co-incidence that so many similarities have cropped up.
The director of the film Nikhil Advani was not around for any comments.