Anees Bazmee’s Thank You is not the film you think it is and it’s exactly the film you think it is. What I mean is that I went into Thank You expecting to see something along the lines of Khiladi: Partner Edition packed with buxom babes, silly gags, action, and the khiladi making goo-goo eyes at a vapid Sonam Kapoor. Well, Thank You has the buxom babes, silly gags, and action but I’m very happy to say that the rest I was completely wrong about - including Sonam. Thank You is an effective (if amorphous) comedy* with one or two dabs of genuine emotion and plenty of eye candy for everybody.
The plot is as ridiculous as one can expect from any Anees Bazmee film and stars Akshay Kumar as modern day Krishna (flute included), who loves women so much that he will go to any lengths to punish men who do them wrong. The men in this story are three philandering friends: Bobby Deol, married to Sonam Kapoor; Irrfan Khan, married to (a very welcome) Rimi Sen; and Suniel Shetty, married to Celina Jaitley. The three ladies hire Akshay to teach their loutish husbands a thing or two about how unfair it is to have an affair.**
While Thank You doesn’t have the most progressive of plots, it’s a lot less offensive that the promos make it out to be. I was reminded of an episode of This American Life where Ira Glass visits the writing room of satiric American newspaper The Onion. Ira asks one of the writers to explain the difference between two headlines that appear similar on the surface: “Nation’s Girlfriends Demand More Quality Time” and “Area Girlfriend Always Wanting to ‘Do Stuff.’” The difference, as the writer explained, is that the first is making fun of the girlfriends - a variant on the Take my wife - please school of humor. The second is making fun of the man who is complaining. If you ask me, Thank You falls in the second category and the burnt of the humor falls on the men, not the women. Still, if Anees Bazmee style humor does not appeal in any form, Thank You won’t change your mind.
(Interestingly, and maybe spoilery, the romance track in the film is between Sonam and Bobby and not Sonam and Akshay. Those worried about marriage being taken lightly can watch without fear.)
One of the things I was most surprised and delighted by in Thank You was the performances. Bobby and Irrfan are paired together for most of the film - a surprisingly effective comedic jodi. Bobby’s unknowing dimness plays well off of Irrfan’s dry wit. Suniel Shetty pops in and out but he is an enjoyable third stooge whenever he comes onscreen. Akshay is his usual charming self but, much like in Welcome, he is on screen but not really present until near the end in a scene I will discuss a little further down. The ladies are all very engaging - especially Rimi Sen, who was a sight for sore eyes. I’ve been a big fan of Rimi’s for years and her comic timing has only gotten better. Rimi nailed every scene - holding her own against Irrfan like few actresses can. Even Soman and Celina, arguably the two weakest cast members, turn in fine performances. Anees made the best use of Sonam Kapoor that I’ve seen so far - she’s not playing a spunky modern girl but a demure one and the change suits her. (I would even venture as far as to say that perhaps the problem that I had with Sonam was not her acting per se but the awfulness of those “spunky, modern girl” roles.)
Here are a few observations in helpful list format:
1. The lipsyncing was really off in all of the dance numbers - that is inexcusable.
2. Something funky was going on with Akshay’s hair throughout the film - it was relief when he started wearing hats. I understand continuity is not really important but could they not have just picked one style and stuck with it?
3. Sonam didn’t look as thin as she has in recent photos but there were enough scenes where people tried to feed her things that I got the feeling that people behind the scenes are concerned for her health.
4. Girls! Girls! Girls! Every pretty girl of every shape and size and color in the greater Toronto area was brought in for Thank You. Thank you, Anees!
5. The opening credits are done in a fun 70s-ish style that is more fun than anything I’ve seen since the opening credits of Superbad.
6. Finally, (and slightly spoilery) there is a cameo from Vidya Balan that brings the only real emotion into the film and makes the Vidya/Akshay pairing something that I’m dying to see more of. These two have great chemistry - it was on display in Heyy Babyy and on display here.
I really want to emphasize that despite the winking tone of Thank You, it really does have a good heart. There may be plenty of female flesh on display but it never felt gross to me. This isn’t the leering eye of Sajid Khan (that bikini scene in Housefull is really filthy) but a celebration of the female form by somebody who just really like girls. Think Annette Funicello in Beach Party not Pamela Anderson in Baywatch. And what’s wrong with that? Maybe people will disagree with me but the ladies in all the picturizations seemed to be having a pretty good time, which is more than I can say for the awkwardly “sexy” picturizations that are so popular nowadays. People may or may not enjoy low-brow films - that’s a matter of taste, but not everything lowbrow is automatically degrading and worthless.
Let me give you an example - there is a moment in one of the songs where Akshay is wandering down the streets of Toronto spreading love. He passes a male construction worker who completes a line of the song and then grabs the hand of his boyfriend. It’s a sweet moment in a sweet song and it gets a giggle not because he’s gay but because it’s unexpected. Granted, there will always be people who laugh because he’s gay but you can’t let the reaction of a certain segment of the audience decide how you are going to feel about things.
Thank You is a fun film and while this brand of humor might not be your cup of chai, that doesn’t mean it can’t be mine.
* Even the two aunties sitting behind me were guffawing at all the right moments. They especially loved Suniel Shetty.
** Yes, that pun is made in the film - do you think such delicious low-hanging fruit could be ignored?!