Monday, April 11, 2011

Thank You: No, thank YOU, Anees Bazmee!



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?!

8 comments:

maxqnz said...

The Vidya cameo sounds interesting - I will look out for that bit on youtube. After seeing what Akki is capable of in Patiala House I too would like to see him paired with Vidya.

Ness said...

Yay! Can't wait to see it now - nice to read a review that isn't automatically dissing it for being sleazy. I liked the promos because they looked kind of tackily fun, and sometimes that's all I want from a film (HOUSEFULL!).

maxqnz said...

Now that I've seen the Vidya cameo I really want to see them together in something properly, something where she doesn't feel it necessary to take such drastic action to get out of the film. :)

Archee ologist said...

Wow; if there really is a gay couple shown, where the point of the joke is not that they are gay.
Would you say that the subtext of Hindi films is changing? I believe that recent movies have brought forth a rather drastic change where families in small town India are at least talkign about being gay, even if in jest.

That varied saxualities are even acknowledged in the mainstream society is big progress. And for this, Indian societies will have to thank the popular cinema!

With time, the Indian societies will definitely bcome more tolerant of LGBT issues, and I look forwrad to that India.

Disclaimer: I am not gay, just another Indian academic not livign in India currently.

Sukriti said...

I loved Vidya's cameo but can someone pls tell where to get that song from that vidya sings. its not in the list of any dvd i could pick up from music stores nor even on itunes. wats with this song? is it supposed to be somehting you can only see in movie and not available anywhere else?

Filmi Girl said...

@Ness I am DYING to read your review of this. I know we both liked Housefull and I have a feeling you will love every second of Bobby. Hee hee!

@Maxqnz LOL! I think it's funny you took such a strong dislike to the promotions but, yes, Vidya and Akshay brought a genuine tear to my eye. I would LOVE to see them paired together again.

@Archee Even in American culture, varied sexualities are not accepted. I know India is very conservative in some ways and I agree that acknowledging that gay people exist is the first step to bringing the LGBT community into mainstream society.

If I can find a full video of the song, I will do an "in-depth" look at it because it was REALLY fascinating (and sweet.)

@Sukriti I will try to find out.

Shell said...

Well, I will definitely have to take a look at this, despite Sunil (sorry!). Wonder what your fellow film connoiseur's thoughts ended up being!

I find that I am finding an appreciation for some of Akki's films these days.

The Mighty Mango said...

I totally agree -- not everyone's cup of chai, but I found it hilarious and not really degrading at all.

One thing though... You talked about Akki's hair going back and forth -- what about Bobby's?! It was ATROCIOUS in this film, but during the song scenes, it was totally cut normally... And then we went back to long and terrible again!

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl