By Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama News Network
In the initial years of his career, Ramesh Sippy made two gems that we remember [and cherish] to this date -- SEETA AUR GEETA and SHOLAY. SEETA AUR GEETA was about twin-sisters -- the docile and the aggressive. SHOLAY, of course, needs no introduction. Yet, to update the unacquainted, Ramgarh is gripped by a terror called Gabbar. Resultantly, Thakur recruits two men to put an end to Gabbar's tyranny.
Nikhil Advani pays homage to Ramesh Sippy's movies by merging SHOLAY and SEETA AUR GEETA. But this concoction called CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA is as bland as khichdi.
Come to think of it, Nikhil Advani had everything going for him. It's a dream project, what with heavyweights such as Warner Bros., Ramesh Sippy, Akhay Kumar and Gordon Liu agreeing to be a part of this mammoth project. But Nikhil slips and trips, falling flat on his face.
A masala film is always welcome. In fact, two desi films [RAB NE BANA DI JODI and GHAJINI] have been lapped up by the junta in a big way, but CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA is an unbearable masala fare that insults the intelligence of the moviegoer.
The problem with CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA is that it lacks a watertight screenplay to keep you glued for those 2.45 hours. Agreed, you don't look for logic and reason in hardcore potboilers, but the least the director and his team of writers could do is provide loads of entertainment. Sadly, writers Shridhar Raghavan and Rajat Aroraa make mincemeat of a plot that had the potential to woo viewers from Chandni Chowk to China to Chicago to Cape Town.
So, what's the verdict then? Enjoy Chinese food instead. This one's a big, big, big letdown!
Sidhu [Akshay Kumar] cuts vegetables at a roadside food stall in Chandni Chowk in Delhi. He longs to escape his dreary existence and looks for shortcuts -- with astrologers, tarot readers and fake fakirs -- believing anything except himself, despite his father figure Dada's [Mithun Chakraborty] best efforts.
The story takes a turn when two strangers from China claim he's a reincarnation of a war hero and take him to China. Thanks to the devious translator, a conman by the name Chopstick [Ranvir Shorey], little does he know that he is being taken to the Chinese village of vicious smuggler Hojo [Gordon Liu].
Therefore, Sidhu blissfully sets forth to China with Chopstick, who instigates dreams of a delicious future and forgets to reveal the perils, which await him. Along the way, he meets Sakhi [Deepika Padukone], who has embarked on a journey to pay homage to the land of her birth and her dead father and twin.
Hojo catches up with Sidhu and eliminates Dada right in front of everyone. Sidhu seeks revenge and finds the one man who will make him a Kungfu expert and set the village free from Hojo's tyranny.
On face-value, what do you expect from CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA? Laughter unlimited, great martial arts, a glimpse of China. But what's served on the platter is so insipid, so lame, so senseless that you wonder if there was a script in the first place. The comic scenes [that make you laugh] are few and far between. The scenes depicting martial arts are hardly exciting. Also, barring the Great Wall of China, don't expect China darshan here!
There are big holes in the script. Sample these… * How and why do the two oppressed Chinese men suddenly land up in Chandni Chowk in Delhi? Also, how do they zero on Ranvir Shorey? No explanations offered. * Deepika's track of visiting China is trite. Wasn't the twin-sister, an infant, thrown off the Great Wall of China? How did Gordon Liu suddenly decide to bring her up? * Similarly, Deepika's father was also pushed from the Great Wall, but he survives. Akshay too is beaten black and blue and thrown off [coincidentally, from the same place -- Great Wall], but is rescued mid-air by Deepika's father. Miracles never cease to occur, must add.
Post interval, Akshay undergoes a gruelling training session, but not once does the preparation give an impression that Akshay is seething with anger and vengeance. That's because the director has injected humour in these scenes and that takes away the seriousness from the plot. The climax is equally contrived and hence, makes no impact whatsoever.
Although the year 2009 has just begun, this film is sure to be a strong contender in Razzies in two departments mainly -- direction and writing. Nikhil Advani goes horribly wrong this time. As for the writers, well, they ought to take a crash course in film writing pronto. The songs are okay, with the title track and 'Naam Hai Sidhu' being the pick of the lot. The stunts [Dee Dee Ku] are plain mediocre. Even the dated martial arts' movies produced in the East offered better stuff. Himman Dhamija's cinematography lacks the picture perfect look.
Akshay Kumar is the sole saving grace, but the director hasn't tapped his potential to the fullest. Deepika Padukone is passable. Gordon Liu is decent. Ranvir Shorey is functional. Mithun Chakraborty is bland. Roger Yuan, Deepika's father in the film, is fair.
On the whole, CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA is a brilliant opportunity gone appallingly wrong. The film falls way below expectations and is a major disappointment in all respects. At the box-office, the hype might translate into a bountiful weekend, that's it. Thumbs down!
Bollywood.com Rating: 2