Thursday, March 5, 2009

36 China Town, or, Let's Just Get This Out of the Way

Whoa, sorry to go MIA on the blogosphere like that! We've had a sick week around here, and I'm not using that in the West Coast sense of the term. I did manage to watch 36 China Town sometime during the blur, and... I don't know. I just can't seem to work up very much commentary on this one. It might have to do with the ravages influenza has inflicted on our home in the past week, or maybe with the fact that it didn't give me much to work with.

Sonia Chang (Ishaa Koppikar) lives at the titular address. When a man-ho named Rocky (Upen Patel, who bears a disturbing resemblance to Dermot Mulroney on a desi day) comes to call on her, he inqures about someone named Vicky who according to the servants had an accident. Apparently Sonia's been so worried about Vicky that she has to take sedatives to sleep. There's a phone call, and then a dance number that's really kind of awkward, though Upen busts some decent moves, and then a weird reverse-exposure fast-forward wherein someone gets smothered and dragged, followed by a flashback where we see the origins of the phone call.

Priya (Kareena Kapoor) and Raj (Malhotra? Really?) (Shahid, of course) found Vicky, who ends up being the means to their introduction. He's a baby boy, about 18 months old and inexplicably wandering the streets unattended, taking candy from strangers and performing other acts that his mother didn't think to warn him against. The two see an ad for Vicky's safe return, and, instead of contacting the police, contact the mother and then promise to return him. For some unbeknownst reason Sonia agrees to this stupid plan of action. And then goes out to dance with Rocky at the casino she owns.

Aaaand, there. Right there is my main problem with the movie. Even if I've learned to accept that events in Hindi movies don't necessarily follow a linear plan and that their narratives are more like trees than arrows, the emotions are usually spot-on. It is literally impossible for me to even pretend that a mother who's sick with worry about her baby son who's disappeared will go out and party. It jarred me right out of the film; I kept expecting to find out that Vicky wasn't her real child or that she knew right where he was the whole time, or... I don't know, something that made some sort of sense.

The stuff that worked: well, the cast was good. Kareena and Shahid demonstrate some faint precursors of the chemistry that lit up Jab We Met, and Shahid does more acting than hamming, even in the broadest comedy parts. Akshaye Khanna plays a police inspector who's constantly trying - and failing - to light up his cigarette while unraveling a host of contradictory stories from suspects of the eventual crime. Johnny Lever was actually not too annoying as a luckless gambler who pairs up with Paresh Rawal to lose their funds together, alienating their respective spouses. And the "24/7" picturization was kind of cute, in a crack-smoking sort of way (although I didn't like most of the other songs). And I liked the noirish angles and lighting, those were fun.

The "Aashiqui Meri" remix, on the other hand, was everything that "Dard-e-Disco" pokes fun at:

Ugh. Thank God that's over, though Akshaye looks cute as always and Shahid's dancing is fun.
Oh, right, final judgement on the movie: don't waste your time unless you're a die-hard Shahid fan like myself. I'm not sorry I watched it but it's not worth a second viewing. In fact, I'll just have to force myself to watch the Kaminey trailer again to wash the bad taste out of my mouth. What a hardship. Here, you can bear my burden with me:

June can't come soon enough for me!


  1. I haven't seen this, but all i have heard about it is that it's an average flic, which i guess your review confirms.I guess i'll still be checking it though, cos i tend to like the Abbas-Mustan [] movies, although from what i've heard, this one seems to be one of their weakest.

  2. Raj Malhotra factoids: I looked this up on the IMDB a while back. They list 15 different characters with the same name. (Not counting Rajesh, Raju, and others). The earliest listed is: Akshay, in Khiladi! Which is awesome. Then comes DDLJ. Must be the one-two punch that led to the deluge.

    Akshay is not only the first, but the most, having played Raj Malhotras in 5 movies. SRK was three times, Shahid and Govinda twice each, and loads of other people (Rishi, Amitabh, etc.)once.

    Including Bobby Deol in .... Ajnabee!

  3. 36 China Town truly gave me a headache! It was insanely kiddish..both the plot and the acting. And add to that Himesh Reshamiyya's aa aa aashiqui! Unbearable!

    I can see why you hated it! Kaminey looks very very exciting though..I guess we can trust Vishal Bharadwaj after Makdee, The Blue Umbrella and the super-hot Omkara!!!

  4. I always look forward to a Vishal Bhardwaj film (Bhargav, you forgot the equally awesome Maqbool)...

    but I can skip this with no trouble at all!

    Hope you all feel better.

  5. I watched it for Akshaye Khanna, though he barely showed in the movie- and yet- I'd do it all over again :D

  6. I was only interested in this movie because it looked absolutely ridiculous. But as far as I can tell from your review, it isn't even stupid enough to be worthy of mockery.

  7. I agree with your review. Some parts were entertaining but overall, just average. I mainly watched it for the star cast but wasn't entertained, overall. To me, what made the movie failed was it tried to be slick and cool but left me confused.

  8. See, I actually kinda liked this one. I had been expecting it to be much darker and more like an actual mystery, but once I got over that, I enjoyed it well enough. But like you, I had F(ake)P(retend)M(ovie)B(oy)F(riend)-related motivation to watch it.

    "24x7" is one of the songs that I listen to over and over and over. I love the dance moves in that one, especially when they're yogis and Kareena and Shahid just cut loose and act silly - it makes me think they must have actually had fun together. I also enjoy both "Aashiqui Meri" versions and have assumed the remix was a bit tongue-in-cheek. Not totally, but at least sorta.

    I wonder who the appropriate Bollywood figure is to invoke when one needs healing?

  9. I don't know... I found this movie to be quite fun.
    Yes, there were issues (you mentioned one with Eesha... how is she spelling it now?... dancing after getting the news), but I much enjoyed it. Himesh's songs did get kinda annoying, but I did much enjoy Badi Dilchaspi Hai (KK is awesome) and Aashiqui Me Teri (was alright). Akshaye, Shahid & Kareena (to an extent) carried the movie... and while it could've been better, I wasn't too disappointed.

    Of course, I might be slightly biased due to my love of suspense movies than tends to bias my view (Rakht, for example).

  10. I enjoyed this one a lot, too, and am so glad to know from the comments that I wasnt the only one! It struck me as a very good spoof of mystery thrillers. It follows all the standard tropes of the genre but everybody played their roles with such exaggerated seriousness and all situations are so ludicrously funny that it added up to fun satire in my book!

  11. The only movies of Shahid worth watching are 'Ishq Vishk', 'Vivah' and 'Jab We Met'. All the others are B-grade crap. Not blaming Shahid here, because B'wood is beset with poor directors and abysmal scripts, and unless you reach a certain level you don't get much of a choice (unless you are a star kid). I hope he has reached that stage now in his career.

  12. This was a mildly lovely comedy in my books, one of the few things I watched that had Akshaye Khanna in them and felt like worth watching. So for that .. I have the DVD. :D I don't know, Shahid was cute and I love him and Kareena in this. But no "best movie" material it ain't.

  13. Thank you all for your comments!

    Hi bollywooddeewana! As you can see from the comments below yours, about half liked it, so if you like the duo's other work definitely check it out. :-)

    Anarchavist--that was really interesting, thank you for posting it! I didn't know the name was all that popular, although I did know that Shahid's character in KiKo was named R.M. too. (Could hardly claim to be a fangirl if I didn't.) And LOL about Ajnabee!

    Bhargav--headache is a good way to describe it. I really didn't enjoy much about it. But, yeah, Kaminey looks like it'll fall on the opposite end of the "ajnabi likes" scale. ;-)

    memsaab--I dunno, I imagine you could get some pretty good blog fodder out of the film! :-D And thanks, we do.

    Shweta: well, Akshaye *does* show to advantage. Gotta love that cocky smirk.

    Nae: for me it straddled the exact wrong line between WTF and cheesy good. It seems to have worked for others here though!

    Nicki: for me, it was just boring. But with all those stars in the cast it should've been way better!

    Beth: After discovering that Vicky was Sonia's son I was v. v. grumpy, so much so that I was unwilling to go anywhere else with the narrative. But I agree, 24/7 is really cute, especially the part you describe (I had the exact same impression!). If the remix was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, I'm going to feel extraordinarily dull-witted. Cuz I didn't get it at all. Oh, and invoke Juhi Chawla, of course--her dimples always make me feel better!

    Bwood-fan: I certainly don't begrudge anyone a good time with a film that didn't do anything for me, so I'm glad it worked. :-) It did moderately well at the box-office too, I guess, which might make me appear to be excessively cranky. Is the first song you mentioned the "Rock Your Body" one? I couldn't handle it. See, cranky.

    bollyviewer: I dunno, I just couldn't get into it after they popped my Vicky-bubble. I thought the funniest part was definitely when Johnny Lever & biwi were trying to get rid of that inconvenient suitcase.

    Hi Anonymous! Oh, I don't know, I have an ashamed fondness for Chup Chup Ke and a not-at-all-ashamed liking for Kismat Konnection as well. But I'm sure the majority of his work till date is crap. ;-) I think he is a star kid, just not an A-list star's kid. I hope the same thing as you, that he's reached a level that lets him have the best stuff come to his doorstep.

    veracious: Shahid and Kareena (and Akshaye) really were good in it. I just thought the script hampered everyone. I don't blame you for owning the DVD though. ;-)

  14. I didn't dislike this at all either, although Upen Patel came close to ruining the film for me. In all fairness, though, I've learned anything blessed to have Kareena (and that is not Tashan) seems to work for me ;)

  15. TBF--Upen is sort of weird, isn't he? And his character was worse than weird. I'm not surprised you were okay with it, though--like you said, it does have Kareena! LOL


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