Aaja Nachle

Just saw this movie on VCD on my laptop while waiting for an endless connection from Ahmedabad back to Delhi. I didn't have any expectations one way or the other, but Madhuri Dixit in the movie made me want to see it. I was agreeably surprised, because going by the reviews and the poor box office response, I thought it might turn out to be a little incoherent.

The story was different, particularly from the Indian audience's perspective. A single mother who comes back to revive a theatre school in a small town...possibly didn't quite strike a chord with the viewers. That apart, the story was good, a typical bad girl/ boy makes good which is quite common in the West but not here. The cast of supporting characters all had their own mini-stories which were brought to life well without getting in the way of the main story.

The acting level was quite high. Madhuri easily played herself, as the NRI returned to her roots, and her daughter was a pleasant young girl with none of the turn-off characteristics of the typical hindi movie child. Like any America born kid, her constant refrain was - can we go home now, which rings quite true. Akshaye Khanna was charming and suave in a cameo-type role, as was Kunal Kapoor. Konkona as always, shone by getting thoroughly into her character of a tomboy-ish girl from a small town, and despite the need to be giggly and hyper-energetic was always in control of her performance - typical Bollywood types, please note. Irrfan Khan was good but I thought a little stereotyped in the way that he played his character. Ranvir Sheorey turned in a sensitive and likeable performance as the jilted suitor with the proverbial heart of gold, and it was a delight to watch Sushmita Mukherjee after such a long time.

The dancing was superb. The title song, Aaja Nachle, and the way Mad-Dix danced to it, showed why the movie was just made for her. Incredibly supple and fluid movements, the expressions on her face and in her eyes, the joy of dancing which was evident in each step, all brought the character to life. The music was something I enjoyed much more through the movie than before, especially the title song and the 'show me your khoobiyan' song which is very catchy and has a wonderful beat.

I think if a couple of things about the film had been changed, it would have worked its magic at the box office. First of all, Dia, the heroine, is a divorced single mom who doesn't seem at all apologetic about her status or unhappy with anything in life. While we feminists may applaud that attitude, for the movie to be a success, it may have worked better to have portrayed her as a widow. Then too, she comes home after ten years and makes no attempt to locate her estranged parents. While secondary to the main story, had that emotional angle been woven in, the movie might have tugged at the heartstrings more. As of now, it is a little difficult to understand why she flies halfway across the world for a dying guru but doesn't seem to make the slightest attempt to find her parents who had to move out of town after she ran away on the eve of her wedding. And lastly, of course, completely to pander to the box office would have been a proper romance for La Dix, though I am quite happy that it was only hinted at and never the focus of attention.

I think this film, along with a host of others last year, was a boon for the movie-going public. A different story, not the stake old boy-meets girl, with good production values and a great ensemble cast. Pity it didn't do better.

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