By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Film: "36 Chinatown"; Starring Akshaye Khanna, Kareena Kapoor,
Shahid Kapoor, Johnny Lever, Tenaaz Lal, Paresh Rawal, Payal Rohatgi
and Upen Patel; Directed by Abbas-Mustan; Rating: **
From master-thriller makers comes this brisk and bouncy rib-tickler
that purports to be a comic whodunit. Admittedly, some portions of the
narrative keep you smiling and some make you bite your nail in
This is pleasurable silliness masquerading as a whodunit. To that
extent it works, though you never know why the film had to have the
title that it has when in fact Chinatown plays no part in it. Sure,
paper dragons float by in the climatic song and we see some mongoloid
faces in the chorus line. But er...is that all it takes to create
Maybe Abbas-Mustan wanted the film to be more stylish than the other
films. The ambience is saturated with vibrant colours and smooth songs
(Himesh Reshammiya). The artwork, cinematography and editing are
flamboyant without flaunting the glamour quotient or giving away the
film's illogical plot.
If this is meant to be a whodunit then the denouement comes as a big
disappointment. But since the film showcases some truly eye-catching
actors in ritzy clothes and sets that try to be upmarket and
non-garish, you tend to forget how weakly the whodunit whimpers to a
Paresh Rawal and Johnny Lever with their respective screen-wives
Payal Rohatgi and Tenaaz Lal know how to roll their eyes without losing
their focus on the film's suspenseful ambitions.
But the dialogues are the pits. The joke about calling a lady a bomb
that Upen Patel uses to flirt was used by Akshaye Khanna in Subhash
Ghai's "Shaadi Se Pehle". Aridity of ideas or just production
What really carries the script beyond its inherent wishy-washiness
are the actors. Akshaye Khanna, better here being serious after his
over-the-top comedy in "Shaadi Se Pehle" last month, plays the
investigative officer with arresting élan.
Vivek Shouq as his assistant has been given some deft
behind-the-scenes humour to make his character come alive.
Shahid and Kareena as the couple on the run share a warmth that
somewhere transcends the plot. Kareena's chiselled beauty pervades the
film, superseding the bevy of feminine beauties, including Priyanka
Chopra's endearing walk-on part, whereas Shahid's comic timing and
energy are eminently endearing.
Upen as the Casanova in the casino makes an unusual stylish debut.
He dances with confidence and holds his own even among the accomplished
ensemble of actors.
"36 Chinatown" courts frivolity without falling flat on its face.
There's a certain momentum to the humour that doesn't get diluted by
the depleted denouement.
Bollywood.com Rating: 2