2006, Movie, NR, 160 mins


Even by the genre-bending standards of Bollywood musicals, this bizarre, aggressively self-referential spectacle ("I am showing you a flashback," one character tells another as an expository scene begins to play on the wall) features a nutty mix of broad comedy, romance and maudlin melodrama. It begins in outer space, as NASA astronaut Agastya Rao (Akshay Kumar) does a zero-gravity waltz (yes, the "Blue Danube Waltz") with his curvaceous copilot. She stops him as he's about to call his friend Suhaan (Salman Khan) with birthday greetings, pointing out that it's 5 am in Mumbai. So he kills time by telling her the story of their rocky road to friendship. Though they attended college together, handsome, arrogant Suhaan never noticed Agastya, a math geek with braces, frizzy hair and a dreadful fashion sense. Neither recognizes the other when they meet seven years later. Now Suhaan is broke, having destroyed his marriage to the beautiful Piya (Priety Zinta) for a shot at stardom that didn't pan out. Piya moved to New York to be close to her wealthy family, and Suhaan, who hasn't paid his court-ordered alimony for a year, is faced with her lawyers' demand for a huge one-time lump payment he has no way of paying. As he bemoans his sorry lot with his lawyer, scheming dwarf Bonny Singh (Anupam Kher), the answer to Suhaan's problems, rings his doorbell. It's Agastya, who's worshipped Piya from afar since they were classmates and has finally arrived to declare his love. Bonny points out that if Piya remarries, Suhaan will be free of financial responsibility to her, so Suhaan gives Agastya her New York address and tells him to follow his heart. Unfortunately, the mere thought of Piya reduces Agastya to the pitiful, stammering loser he used to be, so Suhaan comes along and, using tiny electronic earpieces, coaches Agastya through his courtship. But the heart is unpredictable and Suhaan realizes he still loves Piya. Many complications arise before this triangle resolves itself, and along the way Suhaan learns not to be such a jerk and Agastya finds genuine self-confidence. The film's transition from sight gags — most involving the outlandish getups Suhaan dons so he can stay close enough to Agastya to feed him lines without being spotted by Piya — to tear-stained family drama is especially abrupt, and most of the musical sequences are undistinguished. But there is a bizarre number for creepy midgets in elf costumes, and the tale's comic punch line is oddly memorable. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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