Sunday, 2 December 2007

Aaja Nachle (2007)

Madhuri Dixit. A name that needs no introduction. Its mere existence speaks volumes of its stature. A name that carries a sense of dignity, grace and a promise of performances of the grandest caliber.

So with the queen bee of Hindi cinema returning to the silver screen in Anil Mehta’s Aaja Nachle, expectations are only titanic and with a title that promises profound promenade, an awe-inspiring Dixit asset, audiences can only expect a delicacy of eminence.

The story starts with Dia (Madhuri Dixit) gyrating to the techno beats of a hip track in her New York Studio where she shows her students just how it’s done, setting the standards high for a visual spectacle of dance and merriment.

It is amidst these vigorous diapasons that Dia receives news from India of her guru ji’s ailing health and makes the decision to return to pay her obeisance before his last breath, setting foot in the town of Shamli where its inhabitants hold only contempt for Dia and her traitorous past.

Just like a vinyl track delays it’s embarkation of glory, Dia too arrives in Shamli only after her guru has departed from the world, leaving her with the challenge to bring the art back into people’s hearts and resurrect a now desolate and dilapidated Ajanta Thearte – the temple of Dia’s childhood learning’s.

With only two months to succeed in staging a mammoth stage play of which its players must only be those of Shamli, Dia has to ensure she is first past the finishing post. Faced with a number of abecedarian townsfolk as her students, the rest of the story sees how Dia manages to replace angst with ire to once again ignite the spirit of art in Ajanta.

Aaja Nachle is very much like an unreliable car…it starts off smoothly carrying its passengers on a high voltage journey but then midway breaks down leaving them stranded on a road of sluggishness pace, only then to restart in it’s belated finale.

Anil Mehta must be applauded for taking on a woman centric film which is sans melodrama and tears which only goes to prove that not all woman orientated subjects have to be about the oppressed female making Aaja Nachle a refreshing change. However, the problem is that the story is wafer thin and lackluster and has been unnecessarily stretched out to offer very little to it’s viewers in terms of content.

Granted that the approach of the film is to appear rooted in a degree of realism hence the tale takes a simple route but it seems the director compromised his original sentiments at regular intervals in the film. Take for instance, the title track Aaja Nachle where the screen explodes with a dozen backing dancers and a flamboyant set design…pleasing to the eye but a thistle in the flowerbed considering the character of Dia is struggling to find people to join her troupe yet so effortlessly manages to indulge in this grand number.

Furthermore, the proceedings begin to appear extremely calculable midway…the usual suspects of stern businessmen, corrupt politicians and hot headed hooligans all serving as Dia’s oppositions are easily won over by a mere exchange of punchy one liners or fiery jabber leaving the story in one dimensional mode. The film could have been a vision of brilliance had we been able to witness just how a female goes about to subjugate unbending chauvinists instead of settling for the pablum manner that unfolds before ones eyes.

The summation presents itself in full allurement where the audience is greeted with a spectacle of a stage show, complete with all the frills and twirls of glittering sets and rococo dance sequences…all too hard to digest and all too commodious for a tidy ending which packs in a great polish but not enough passion to convince of this facile omega.

As this is a Madhuri film, the viewers are gifted with her presence in almost every frame and that’s what makes Aaja Nachle worth a watch, purely to see the veteran work her magic yet again. There is little to be said about Madhuri’s capabilities as she always delivers and manages to encapsulate her audience with her charm and in Aaja Nachle she is just as dependable, looking extremely radiant throughout. Yet, the sad part is that she is let down by a poor story that doesn’t offer her the potential to reach dazzlingly heights in terms of performance. I for one would like to see her take on the role of a classic in perhaps a remake of Mother India or Pakeezah, a performance that would merit her talent.

The rest of the cast have little to do apart from evoke a few laughs. Kunal Kapoor is extremely likeable as the hot blooded male and how one hopes more is seen of him in fuller fledged roles. Konkona Sen is adequate although she doesn’t leave as much impact as one would have hoped. Akshay Khanna as always is flawless.

Musically, Aaja Nachle presents its best in the form of its title track which is sure to go down as another of Madhuri’s great dance fetes. The rest of the tracks bearing “Show me Your Jalwa” are mediocre, a sore disappointment in what was supposed to be a dance centric film.

Vaibhavi Merchant has been given the chorographical reins this time around but seems to have been quite bromidic with her moves. Although Madhuri shines with whatever material she is given, the numbers are certainly not outstanding when compared to her work in Devdas, Lajja, Beta and Khalnayak which leaves one thinking that perhaps Saroj Khan would have been a better choice.

Even in its conclusion one wonders what the purpose of the film was…there is never any mention of what went on to happen of Ajanta Thearte as the character of Dia returns to New York. As a result the viewer is left disorientated with the fact that perhaps the whole premise of the film was to act as a stage for Madhuri’s dance abilities and nothing else, which leaves the film mocking its own sensibility of nurturing ones heritage.

In the films climax, Madhuri delivers an apt line – “I came to India to fulfill my responsibilities and now I am done, I am going back” – but her loyal fans will surely agree that Madhuri has to grace the motherland yet again with her gift from the God’s. Madhuri has a lot more to offer than just Aaja Nachle, a promise of a spectacle that appears to have arrived not with a bang but more of a whimper.


Abhinav said...

Could you do the reviews for the following:
1.1942-a love story
2.Mission kashmir
4.Hazaaron Khwahishein aisi
5.Kabhi alvida naa kehna
Sorry,if I am asking for too much but in general reviews for these films have been obfuscating.And if possibl please discuss the aesthetics of these films in detail rather than the story..will make for better reading;)-

Sunny said...

hi abhinav, thanks for your suggestions and I will surely endeavour to meet your requirements!

I shall hopefully be posting some more reviews in the next few days and will look to add some if not all your suggestions to the box too!

Meanwhile, what did you think of Aaja Nachle?

Abhinav said...

Aaja Nachle was an ok watch,I guess.The cinematic liberties took the film through a rather insiped route.Madhuri still makes it watchable,though I was rather let down by Konkona and Kunal Kapoor.Konkona looked like Antara Mali and sadly acted like her too:(
I find it a little disappointing to note how talents like her are never fully exlpoited by commercial film makers.(In the recent past Shiney in Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Vidya in Heyy Babyy have disappointed)..why do you suppose that happens?